Saturday, May 30, 2015

Poltergeist / ** (PG-13)

Eric Bowen: Sam Rockwell
Amy Bowen: Rosemarie DeWitt
Kendra Bowen: Saxon Sharbino
Griffin Bowen: Kyle Catlett
Madison Bowen: Kennedi Clements
Carrigan Burke: Jared Harris
Dr. Brooke Powell: Jane Adams
Boyd: Nicholas Braun
Sophie: Susan Heyward

20th Century Fox and MGM present a film directed by Gil Kenan. Written by David Lindsay-Abaire. Based on the 1982 screenplay by Steven Spielberg. Running time: 93 min. Rated PG-13 (for intense frightening images, brief suggestive material, and some language).

There are some who are calling the present period in cinematic history the Golden Age of Independent Horror. It is true that there have been a good deal of innovative horror films released over the past decade. We’ve seen the rise of Spanish and Korean horror masters, like Guillermo del Toro and Joon-ho Bong. “Saw” changed the horror landscape forever. The first “Paranormal Activity” was original and genuinely frightening. And even as recently as this year we’ve seen innovative horror films like “It Follows”. Perhaps, however, horror directors are getting a little full of themselves and are forgetting the basics of filmmaking as they apply to horror.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road / **** (R)

Max Rockatansky: Tom Hardy
Imperator Furiosa: Charlize Theron
Nux: Nicholas Hoult
Immortan Joe: Hugh Keays-Byrne
Slit: Josh Helman
Rictus Erectus: Nathan Jones
Toast the Knowing: Zoƫ Kravitz
The Splendid Angharad: Rosie Huntington-Whiteley

Warner Bros. Pictures presents a film directed by George Miller. Written by Miller and Brendan McCarthy and Nico Lathouris. Running time: 120 min. Rated R (for intense sequences of violence throughout, and for disturbing images).

They say it is a fine line between genius and madness. When I was in college, we had a professor that might’ve proved this adage. He was a brilliant teacher and director known for sometimes spectacular behavior to get what he wanted out of his casts. As a teacher he loved to ask his students each Monday which movies we had wasted our money that weekend. He chortled at the latest “artistic” cinema we’d consumed as some sort of deep commentary on society, but… get him talking about George Miller’s post-apocalyptic adventure “The Road Warrior” and you’d hear him extemporize about the genius of modern cinema.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Avengers: Age of Ultron / *** (PG-13)

Tony Stark/Iron Man: Robert Downey, Jr.
Thor: Chris Hemsworth
Steve Rogers/Captain America: Chris Evans
Bruce Banner/Hulk: Mark Ruffalo
Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow: Scarlett Johansson
Clint Barton/Hawkeye: Jeremy Renner
Pietro Maximoff/Quicksilver: Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch: Elizabeth Olsen
Ultron (voice): James Spader
J.A.R.V.I.S./Vision: Paul Bettany
Nick Fury: Samuel L. Jackson

Walt Disney and Marvel Studios present a film written & directed by Joss Whedon. Based on the Marvel Comis characters created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby. Running time: 141 min. Rated PG-13 (for intense sequences of sci-fi action, violence and destruction, and for some suggestive comments).


These words typically associated with comic books could easily fill in for the sound effects in the opening sequence of “Avengers: Age of Ultron”, the second film in the “Avengers” franchise and eleventh overall in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In fact, these and similar words could fill the soundtrack of almost the entire nearly 2 ½ hour running time of the movie. It is wall to wall to ceiling to floor action. It even has a little bit of the science fiction themes and soap operatic elements that sold so many of the children of the 80s on comic book culture.

For those who are doing their best to consume everything MCU they possibly can, the plot picks up the moment where this past week’s TV episode of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” left off. I was disappointed not to see at least a brief cameo by Agent Coulson, however. For those of you who just want to kick off your summer with a balls-out smash blockbuster action spectacular, don’t worry, you don’t need to have seen one second of the television show to understand and enjoy what’s happening on the big screen.