Screen+Shot+2014-03-28+at+12.58.19+PMHercules is the equivalent of hiring a day laborer only to discover them dozing under the cabana 20 minutes later. You weren’t really ever expecting that much, just a tidy little one-and-done job, so you can’t help but flabbergast at the flagrant display of utter laziness. It’s truly an epic tableau of “who gives a fuck?” It’s so imposingly boring, you’d think you walked into a documentary about dust mites. It’s so recklessly rattlebrained that you think the screenplay is the product of ‘Myths by Charlie Kelly’. It’s the Kitten Mittens of sword and sandals movies. Every character and plot line is so mismanaged you’d think Halliburton were producing it.

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Too many times, that overused phrase “It made me feel like a kid again” has stood as a defense for liking sub-par movies. But with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, a truly magical work that had me giddy, mouth agape in sheer wonder (like a big-mouth bass caught hook, line and sinker) I will happily cloak myself in that tired sentiment. Dawn of the Apes made me feel like a kid again, and it was amazing.

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Since all the Groundhog Dog jokes have already risen, seen their shadow and retreated into the proverbial internet hole, let’s just settle with calling Edge of Tomorrow a slightly derivative but monstrously enjoyable blockbuster. In a time where any project commanding a budget north of 100 million dollars is either dumbed down to the broadest of international audiences or stuffed with pew-pewing superheroes, witnessing this brand of thinking man’s blockbuster illicits nothing short of a deep sigh of relief. It might not have the layers of Inception or the majesty of Avatar but its fleet-footed cadence, wily comic timing and crackerjack combat spectacles makes for one ace summer tentpole.

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Maleficent, starring Angelina Jolie‘s cheekbones and Elle Fanning‘s bleach blonde mop and shit-eating smile, is a movie designed for young, dim-witted children who fancy bright lights and high pitched voices and don’t yet understand the word “story”. It’s a retelling by way of obliteration, with debut director Robert Stromberg taking sledgehammer swings when he would have benefited so much more from the nuance of a scalpel. From the very first minute, it’s a total slog, a tonal nightmare. There wasn’t one moment where I wasn’t waiting for it to just end.

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For its 40th, the Seattle International Film Festival is again raising the bar on itself, this year offering a whopping 435 films including 198 feature films, 60 documentaries, and 163 short films from 83 countries. Of those, 44 are world premieres, 29 North American premieres and 13 US premieres. All this amongst a slew of festival favorites from this year and last. Let’s just say that the odds of seeing them all just got that much slimmer. 

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Even with a 73% on Rotten Tomatoes, a 7.2 on IMDB, and a 66 on Metacritic, it’s almost universally agreed that The Amazing Spider-Man was mostly garbage. Despite electric chemistry between stars Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, the story bowed to the whim of the bizarre and childish, painting a doltish picture that recycled much of Sam Raimi‘s 2002 original. That is when it wasn’t involved with a villain’s pea-brained attempts to turn the residents of NYC into lizards. It was so inexplicably dumb that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 finds Harry Osborn – as a penitent mouthpiece for director Marc Webb – pointing out the absurdity of the reboot’s web-footed plotting. Thankfully this latest iteration will leave children and adults stupefied for a (mostly) different reason.

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Every once in a blue moon an unsung talent breaks out of their wheelhouse to extraordinary results.  Quentin Tarantino famously emerged from a video store, learning his craft at the film school of VHS rentals. Ron Howard was a can-kicking child actor before stepping in to direct acclaimed films like Apollo 13, Rush and Academy Award winner A Beautiful Mind. Even Japanese auteur and samurai-lordship himself Akira Kurosawa trained as a painter before ever stepping behind a camera. The lesson is: great directors can come from pretty much anywhere. Wally Pfister, longtime cinematographer for Christopher Nolan (another cinebuff who did not receive formal film school education) and head hancho of Transcendence, has spent the better part of two decades behind a camera. But this is the first time he’s sat in the black foldout chair etched with the word “director.” In this 100 million dollar dry run of his, he’s all but sullied the name.

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Growing up in the 1940s gives Steve Rogers an excuse to not understand the mechanics of speed dial. But when neo-Nazi’s threaten the freedom of the entire world, you have to wonder why he’s not more focused on contacting his nuclear suit-wearing chum, Tony Stark, or the bad Shakespeare in the park actor/Norse God, Thor. Unless he’s gone on some spirit journey to be explained away in extra Blu-Ray bonus material, Tony’s probably just shambling around Stark Towers in his drawers. His billionaire skyline must be literally cast in shadow by the helicarriers of doom that Captain America’s trying to take down with the only weapons at his disposal: record-breaking sprinting skills and a shield.  The fate of the entire world is at stake and here’s good hearted Steve clearly taking a hell of an ass-whopping and he still doesn’t see fit to call up his Avengers pals? Or at least try? I’m sorry but you lost me there.

NOAH

Glenn Beck has spoken. “Noah is just ridiculous,” Beck preached, going so far as to call the message contained within Darren Aronofsky‘s biblical blockbuster “danger disinformation.” Wise words from a man defending a story involving “the Creator” committing genocide against humankind, save for a 600-year old hero and his family (Genesis 7:6). For the creationist talk show host, ridiculousness exists only outside the confines of the Bible. But Beck is onto something.