Warner has a winner in Wick; Chapter 2 sets down roots for a new series

keanu-reeves-will-kill-em-all-in-john-wick-chapter-2

John Wick does not miss

I liked the original John Wick; I actually wrote about it before I even watched it a second time.  And here I am again, writing about the latest of what should become a long-running series for Keanu Reeves’ hitman done wrong.  After only one viewing, it has my stamp of approval.  Check out the trailer and then more after the jump:

Read More

Advertisements

5 things I thought were great about Gone Girl

Fincher’s frames Affleck… and Pike?

If nothing else, you gotta give David Fincher credit for consistency. I mean, he also deserves props for his sometimes daring, always stylistic filmmaking, but above all you can rest assured that he will, when all is said and done, deliver the goods in the form of a satisfying cinematic experience. His latest, Gone Girl, is the lastest well-earned notch in his belt.

Here the trailer; my 5 great things follow after the jump:

Read More

5 things I found extremely enjoyable about Edge of Tomorrow

Yes, he’s a douchebag here, but a helluva hero later

So this was the one for me. Of all the summer movies, Edge of Tomorrow was the one that did it for me. It had all the key elements of a summer blockbuster: science fiction, end of civilization, aliens, monsters, monster aliens, cool technology, time travel and humor. And of course, lots and lots of explosions. EoT was helped tremendously by the fact that it featured the world’s top action star, Tom Cruise, who plays a smarmy guy who really deserves to have something nasty happen to him… and it pretty much does in the first 10 minutes. Then the film takes off like a rocket.

Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun Times called the film “… a badass, sci-fi take on Groundhog Day, with Tom Cruise in the Bill Murray role as a self-centered and not particularly noble loner who finds himself starring in a continual loop in which he is condemned to repeat the same day over and over — which eventually leads to some life-changing revelations.” Yup. Check out the kickass trailer and then find out what I found so enjoyable about it after the jump:

Read More

5 things I loved about Lucy

She doesn’t want what you think she wants

When I first saw the trailer for Lucy, I was like, “Damn, that’s hot.” And I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for anything Scarlett Johansson does, so that just might have something to do with my reaction. All I could tell was that she was somehow a drug mule done wrong and suddenly gets superhuman powers. What’s not to like? That it was directed by French filmmaker Luc Besson (ranked “In The Lobby” by the braintrust here at VOH) didn’t hurt, but didn’t really help much either. I’d probably go see Scar Jo directed by VOH-certified hack Michael Bay (in The Island), or directed by the man responsible for the crazily-disappointing Cowboys and Aliens, Jon Favreau (in Iron Man 2). ‘Cause it’s her. So I was down to see Lucy.

And I went to see it and was not that impressed. I think I was taken by surprise with what Besson, who also wrote the screenplay, was trying to say. I didn’t really get it. I thought I was in for a straightforward revenge flick, but once Lucy gets tuned in and turned on by all those synthetic drugs released in her system, suddenly revenge is the very last thing on her mind, if at all. So I had to go see it again, about a month or so later, at a second-run theater. And I finally got it.

Richard Corliss from Time called it “… the summer’s coolest, juiciest, smartest action movie.” Well, as usual, he was wrong, which is one of the many reasons I don’t read Time. Edge of Tomorrow was the summer’s coolest, juiciest, smartest action movie. But Lucy is damn cool, no doubt about it.

Don’t get it twisted. While it’s not a revenge flick, Lucy gets to kick a serious amount of butt; it’s just that her motivation is not what you’d expect. It comes from a surprisingly high place. Check out the trailer and my 5 things will follow after the jump.

Read More

5 things that had me excited about The Equalizer

The Equalizer

Here’s a movie that almost missed me. I mean, I remember the old mid-80s TV drama featuring an old spy who could somehow still take care of business. So when I heard about a film version starring Denzel Washington in the title role, my initial thought was “Meh, I’ll pass.” And the trailer didn’t do much to warm me up either. But then I read a review by A.A. Dowd at the Onion AV Club, actually quite critical (Dowd gave the film a C Minus), but something about it piqued my interest. Maybe it was a boring weekend, but I went out to see it, and man, I am glad I did! This new version of The Equalizer is nothing like the TV show. It’s more like Washington’s other role as a retired CIA killer, Man on Fire, except instead of being a moody, alcoholic, suicidal psychopath he’s a friendly, obsessive-compulsive, do-gooder psychopath. In his review, Dowd claims Washington’s character is “Blessed with the fighting skills of Batman.” He must have forgotten that Batman got his ass kicked by Bane last time out. In The Equalizer, ain’t nobody kicking Denzel’s ass… I would say he was blessed with the omnipotent fighting power of Bruce Lee. The very first action piece, in my mind, is worth the entire price of admission, but Sony is going to do you a favor and let you see it for free in the clip below.

Check out the action, and then my 5 things after the jump:


Read More

5 things I dug about Dear White People

Dear White People poster
Seems like it has been forever since the last smart, funny comedy about black/white relations dropped.  Maybe it has been forever.  In any case, Dear White People plays like an irreverent breath of fresh air, just in time to save us from yet another Tyler Perry mehfest (hey, even the characters in Dear White People take time to poke fun at Perry, so I’m not alone in this).

Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune calls the film “slyly provocative,” and that’s as good a description as any, although I’ll go with “sidesplittingly funny” as well, but you’ve got to be up on your modern race relations to get the most out of the in-jokes. Make sure to take a black friend with you for maximum enjoyment.  Better yet, take two.  If you need some talking points to get them to join you, tell them the film has wracked up a number of festival awards already:  the “Directors to Watch” award at the Palms Springs International Film Festival; the Audience Award at the San Francisco International FF; and a Special Jury Prize at Sundance.  Indy cred out the yang, which explains why the film is only showing on 348 screens.

Enjoy the trailer then my 5 things after the jump:

Read More

5 winning things about Whiplash

Whiplash
Talk about an outstanding film.  Winner of both the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance this year, Whiplash is quite the achievement for first-time writer/director Damien Chazelle.   The film tells the riveting story of the conflict between a soft-spoken musical prodigy and his rabidly domineering music instructor.  My poor description doesn’t do it justice, so take a look at the trailer; you’ll be hooked, too.   My 5 things follow after the jump:

Read More