PACIFIC RIM is a film that would have melted my brain at 10, but doesn’t quite meet my expectations at 26.
The second film in as many weeks to leave you gasping for air, CAPTAIN PHILLIPS features Tom Hanks’s best performance in a decade, and definitively makes Paul Greengrass the master of the docudrama.
The hyper-kinetic, thoughtful capper to the Jason Bourne trilogy, The Bourne Ultimatum signified a revolution in the action genre — and we’re still feeling its effects.
A white-knuckle, technically flawless masterpiece, Alfonso Cuaron’s GRAVITY is the theatergoing experience of the year.
It’s a big year for coming-of-age flicks, with the Arkansas-set Mud (starring Matthew McConaughey, in the running for an Oscar nom) and The Way Way Back both drawing critical acclaim. By contrast, The Kings of Summer doesn’t really aspire to much — it’s an extremely simple story, with a lot of funny moments, but it’s missing a payoff.
Certainly an improvement on 2010’s muddled Iron Man 2, the third film in the franchise has a zippy script and a fun twist — but ultimately demonstrates why I’m ready for the suit to be hung up.
There are films that seep into the public consciousness so deeply that we begin to take them for granted, and their greatness is assumed but no longer deeply thought about. The Shawshank Redemption is one of those films.
J.J. Abrams’ s first Star Trek film was a surefire hit right out of the gate, impeccably cast and bringing some desperately-needed energy to a franchise that had been starting to drown in its own convoluted canon. Many of Abrams’s choices upset die-hard Trek fans, but I wasn’t among them–like Abrams, I’ve always kind of been more of a Star Wars guy and didn’t care much what was “different.” It wasn’t perfect, but I really thought the 2009 entry was a total blast from beginning to end, and expectations for the inevitable sequel were sky-high.
Edgar Wright is one of the most dynamic and inventive young directors on the planet today. He cut his teeth on the English sitcom Spaced, which was co-written by the show’s leads, Simon Pegg & Jessica Hynes. It featured a dazzling array of visual quirks, including whip pans, frantic montages, meta dream sequences, and constant nods to tentpoles of nerd culture. The hilarious “male telepathy” scene from Season 2 lays a foundation for what Wright would attempt in his feature film career, culminating in this under-appreciated gem of a film.
It’s not a huge secret that many Pixar productions, at least to outsiders, take on the appearance of being “troubled.” The animation juggernaut has produced commercial and critical hit after hit* since the original Toy Story set the industry on fire back in 1995, but the production process has occasionally hit some speed bumps.
Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere.
Toy Story 2 was rescued from the direct-to-video trash heap and given a brand-new script. John Lasseter took over Cars 2 from the original director when that film started to have problems. Mark Andrews took the reins of Brave after Brenda Chapman (Pixar’s first female director) was dismissed. Even the highly-respected Bob Peterson was relieved from next year’s The Good Dinosaur, reasons unknown (fortunately, he’s not leaving the company).
We may never know what the original Ratatouille would have looked like, and on what scale Brad Bird made changes when he came in to replace Jan Pinkava, but we do know this: Bird crafted an exceptional film.