When one thinks of a gut-churning, politically minded film about war, the name Renny Harlin doesn’t immediately spring to mind. The action maestro, who’s spent the last decade taking odd genre jobs to get his career back on track, attempts to crack the mystery of the message movie with “5 Days of War,” an unsettled mix of history and histrionics that benefits from Harlin’s special touch with large-scale action sequences.
When “Spy Kids” debuted in 2001, it was a breath of fresh air from writer/director/everything-elser Robert Rodriguez, the R-rated rebel who spent the 1990s manufacturing violent entertainment for adult audiences. Post “Spy Kids,” the filmmaker has immersed himself in kiddie distractions, preferring to celebrate the miracle of nosepicking to acts of bloodletting. What was imaginative and cheerful a decade ago has grown formulaic and sophomoric today, with “Spy Kids: All the Time in the World” a coarse, obnoxious reboot of the franchise, highlighting Rodriguez’s desire to keep his cash machine series alive with a brand new cast. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com
I was honestly baffled by every moment of “One Day.” Allegedly some type of romantic experience flecked with exquisite offerings of comedy and tragedy, the picture spins itself dizzy, struggling to make two completely unlikable people into a couple to cheer for. A failure on practically every level of execution, “One Day” is a ghastly representation of longing and screen chemistry. It couldn’t make the nuances of attraction more unpleasant if it tried. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com
To retain some sense of sanity, it’s best to consider the new “Conan the Barbarian” as a reworking of the classic Robert E. Howard character and not a remake of the 1982 Arnold Schwarzenegger/John Milius motion picture. The mental block will help to digest the latest round of sword and (light) sorcery, which features geysers of blood, rippling pectoral muscles, wicked villains, but surprisingly little lamentation of da women. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com
One of the great elements about 1985’s “Fright Night” was its love of movies, specifically a hunger to mimic the mood and blood-spurting symphonies of the old Hammer horror pictures. It was a tongue-in-cheek monster party, and while crippled by a few troublesome ideas, the majority of the feature displayed a plump personality and delightful ‘80’s attitude toward teen sex. The 2011 remake doesn’t share the same appetite for widescreen amusement, slimming down the vampire antics to fit today’s glossy CGI appetites, creating a slick, needless, and only somewhat inspired update. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com
Extensive and unreal violent encounters are safely folded and shared in “The Bang Bang Club,” a potentially mesmerizing look at the work of combat photojournalists ruined by ham-fisted screenwriting and ill-equipped performances. A substantial discussion of mental strain and moral flexibility is thrown out of the nearest window to play with irksome television movie clichés, taking the sting out of an alarming vocation.
“The Last Godfather” is “The Godfather” after eating a bucket of paint chips and huffing a can of gasoline. A slapstick send-up of mafia movies from the man who gave the world “Dragon Wars,” the picture is an unfunny, spectacularly tedious collection of dreadful ideas meant to pass as a wild good time. Instead of laughs, the feature will have viewers scrambling for the eject button and reconsidering the competency of the Korean film industry.
“Stake Land” is ambitious, but only vaguely successful as a bleak horror concoction. Spare, mournful, and often inert, this vampire-flavored take on “The Road” is more admirable than fulfilling, expelling more effort with atmosphere than story, wasting time with stares when legitimate tension is desperately needed.
As much as I wanted “The Perfect Game” to be a fearless Mexican version of “The Bad News Bears,” the picture just wasn’t in a wish-granting mood. More of an inspirational tale compounded with a true story, “Game” is a feature of sheer earnestness, which tends to grate and persuade with equal determination. However, it’s easy to praise the film’s gushing heart, which might be enough to satisfy less demanding viewer in the mood for a few smiles and cheers; a sparkling tale of baseball triumph ideally issued during the heart of the season.
“Mars Needs Moms” is a peculiar viewing experience where its least effective element boils down to a single obnoxious performance. Lively, richly animated with intriguing motion capture fluidity, and pleasingly designed with special attention to sprawling Martian environments, the feature is nearly sunk by the efforts of co-star Dan Fogler, who’s biologically incapable of delivering funny business, squirting his spastic funk all over this nifty CG-animated chase film.
“Rio” doesn’t break new ground in terms of animated entertainment for families, but what it does it does very well. A musical romp boasting an explosion of colors and an energetic range of voice actors, “Rio” keeps to a minimal plan of villains and personal triumph, summoning a charming, booty-shaking carnival ambiance where a bunch of crazy birds (as opposed to the angry kind) participate in some slapstick, adding to the riotous party atmosphere.
While watching “The Help,” there was never a moment where I felt a secure, deeply felt story was being told. Instead, the film is a highlight reel of exaggerated emotions and social concern, struggling to find its voice while incomplete scripting and overly emphatic performances keep the feature’s bloated intentions blurred. Spending more time tugging on heartstrings than exhaustively studying the characters, “The Help” can’t avoid feeling wholly insincere.
The last sequel was titled “The Final Destination,” but clearly New Line Cinema is run by a bunch of sneaky little liars. Thanks to a 3D boost at the box office and renewed interest in the slaughter of no-name actors, the franchise has been pulled out of retirement, revving up again with an all-new multi-dimensional gore show. While the thrill was officially snuffed out once the end credits rolled on the first “Final Destination,” that hasn’t stopped the producers from mounting a surprisingly snoozy fourth sequel.
The hip hop group A Tribe Called Quest has been lauded for decades now, blessed with encouraging record sales and a consistent vibration of love emanating from the rap community. However, they’ve rarely been explored in full, leaving actor Michael Rapaport to step behind the camera and investigate the inner workings of this musical union with his thumpy, riveting documentary, “Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest.”
Brevity is a good friend to the mediocre comedy “30 Minutes or Less.” Running roughly 75 minutes long, the film is tidily arranged by director Rueben Fleischer, who has enough sense to hit his slapstick bullet points and bail. I just wish he had better material, at least something substantial that would prevent the picture from becoming yet another R-rated comedy cursed with crummy improvisation-addicted actors and their distracting potty mouths.
Full disclosure: I’ve never seen a single episode of the Fox television smash “Glee.” I know frighteningly little about the series; however, after viewing “Glee: The 3D Concert Movie,” I’m now extremely curious about the program. At the very least, I’d like to see how the show continues on now that Charlie Sheen has been fired.