Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Lazarus Effect

Though nowhere near as fascinating or as well-written as last year’s Lucy, Director David Gelb’s The Lazarus Effect does have a few interesting thoughts concerning the human brain and some scary/shocking moments. 
However, these are mostly in the middle of the film and, then, its ending violates the primary victim’s shown victory-over-self in favor of Writers Luke Dawson’s and Jeremy Slater’s FU conclusion so typical of “B” horror films.
The saving grace is Olivia Wilde, who gives an extremely watchable performance.  Why she gets second billing to Mark Duplass is the real horror/mystery.

I give The Lazarus Effect a 3 out of 5.

Friday, February 27, 2015


A con requires a very delicate balance to pull off.  The participating “artists” have to work together, closely. 

Unfortunately, in Focus Writers/Directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa have left the audience out of the equation.  And, ultimately, that’s the film's downfall.  They didn't pay attention to their film's title.
The first big con was forgiven just as I was preparing to walk out, but the windup con was a little too smarmy to let go of.   It leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

If it weren’t for the watchability of Margot Robbie, this might have been a total disaster.  As it is, I can only give it a 3 out of 5.

Hot Tub Time Machine 2

It’s wacky, it’s gross, it’s raunchy and it’s, often, funny, too.  That’s director Steve Pink’s Hot Tub Time Machine 2.

This is a film that will appeal most to those who saw and liked the original Hot Tub Time Machine.

Here, Lou (Rob Corddry), Nick (Craig Robinson) and Jacob (Clark Duke) try to go back in time to prevent Lou’s attempted assassination.  Instead, they are sent to the future, where their statuses have been flipped with Lou and Nick being wash-ups and Jacob being on top.

If you’re part of the fan-base, you’ll enjoy it.  And, for you, I give it a 3 out of 5.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Fifty Shades of Grey

I may have been one of the few in the audience, who had not read Fifty Shades of Grey or knew the story.  I was glad of that.  It gave me a chance to enjoy the film from a non-biased point of view.  And, I did.
First off, Casting Director Francine Maisler hit a home run bringing Dakota Johnson in as the female lead Anastasia Steele.   She brought the right mixture of innocence, curiosity and lustiness into the role.  And, while there may have been other actors equally qualified for the main role, Jamie Dornan made a fine Christian Grey.

Cinematographer Seamus McGarvey brought out the beauty of the cast as well as David Wasco’s sets.  And, Danny Elfman’s music perfectly set a tantalizing mood.

So, what was wrong with the film?  Not much in my opinion. 

The only thing I didn’t understand was why the producers Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca and E. L. James opted for an “R” rating as opposed to letting the audience have more of what they expected with an “NC17” rating?  How many under 16-year-olds did they expect would come with their parents?
I’m sure fans of the books may have all kinds of debates about the film, but the fact is they are coming.  Whatever anyone’s opinion, it’s a classy production.  I give Fifty Shades of Grey a 4 out of 5.

Kingsman: The Secret Service

Start with a layer of ‘60s James Bond, add in a dose of James Coburn’s Our Man Flint, a dollop of Dean Martin’s Matt Helm and finish off with a dash of Austin Powers…and what will you get?  A lot of fun…with Writer/Director Matthew Vaughn’s Kingsman: The Secret Service.

After the last two week’s insipid Project Almanac and the lame Jupiter Ascending, it was a pleasure to find a witty action film like Vaughn’s.

The Kingsmen are a clandestine group of upper class British gentlemen patterned after the Knights of the Round Table, who started protecting the realm after the first World War.  Harry Heart (Colin Firth) wants to recruit the son of a former Kingsman, who gave up his life to save several colleagues years ago and whose wife and the the young man (Taron Egerton) have been living in the projects.
However, like all would-be Kingsmen, he has to compete under an extremely difficult elimination process before being able to join and fight against the world’s newest nemesis billionaire (Samuel L. Jackson), who speaks with a lisp, and his henchwoman (Sofia Bouella), who, instead of having feet, moves on blades…real blades that can cut a person in half,.

The billionaire is giving away free cell phones with a chip that can ignite a users’ emotional rage at the flick of a switch; his way of reducing the world’s over-population.

Thanks to Vaughn and Co-Writer Jane Goldman, there is constant action and, as I said at the top, kitchy fun.

I give Kingsman: The Secret Service a 4+ out of 5.