REVIEW: This Is the End

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This Is the End
Directed by: Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg
Written by: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg (screenplay), Jason Stone (short film)
Starring: James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel

This Is the End rotates between being one of the funniest mainstream comedies in recent memory and one of the sloppiest.  If the budget had been hacked in half and forced directors Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg to go without all the CGI demons, it would have been ten times as good.

As it stands, though, it’s hard to argue with a movie where some of the funniest Hollywood actors play themselves during the apocalypse.  Every actor is at the top of their self-mocking form, and when the movie doesn’t detour into much weaker action territory, it’s hilarious.

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REVIEW: Magic Mike

Magic Mike
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
Written by: Reid Carolin (screenplay)
Starring: Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Cody Horn and Matthew McConaughey

Magic Mike is not a radical film.  Its form is decidedly modern, with director Steven Soderbergh creating a lived-in yet color-saturated urban Florida summer.  Its content, a fairly standard “Getting my life together” narrative, has been made radical because of Hollywood’s endless dedication to the male gaze.

As you are probably aware at this point, Magic Mike is the Channing Tatum stripper movie.  It is a summer success story that is somehow a surprise because averting the endless movie camera gawk at the female form and aiming it at men is seen as a risk.  Studio executives remain in a state of shock when the non-heterosexual male half of the population turns out to support a movie made for them.

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REVIEW: 21 Jump Street

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21 Jump Street
Directed by: Phil Lord, Chris Miller
Written by: Michael Bachall
Starring: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube and Brie Larson

When word first spread that the late-80s television relic 21 Jump Street was being adapted for the big screen, fans and casual moviegoers were asked to take a serious leap of faith.

The once popular-in-its-prime series that is known for launching Johnny Depp’s career ran for five seasons on Fox, putting a surreal spin on cop dramas: young officers go undercover as high school students to solve hot button crimes. The already-inaugurated MTV generation was more than ready to handle the show’s inclusion of hot button subjects like AIDS, sex and homophobia. What were the creators of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and real life meatballs Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum going to do with this Hollywood rehash? Continue reading

REVIEW: Haywire

Haywire
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
Written by: Lem Dobbs (screenplay)
Starring: Gina Carano, Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender and Michael Douglas

Like a virus that won’t go away, Mallory (Gina Carano) jumps around the globe, slowing down or killing anything that gets in her path.  That is largely where the narrative similarities between her story and the one from director Steven Soderbergh’s last film, Contagion, end though.

Haywire is curious when placed with the rest of his catalog in that it focuses on a single individual but also contains a large ensemble cast.  Usually his films are one (Erin Brockovich) or the other (Traffic).  At the center of this semi-departure is MMA fighter Gina Carano, who Soderbergh saw fighting on TV and decided to build a movie around.  Carano’s ferociously physical performance as Mallory is by far the movie’s greatest asset.  Soderbergh films most of the action sequences in confined areas, letting her utilize the environment in astonishing and brutal ways.

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