Written by Matt Mungle
Title: The Way, Way Back
In a season filled with capes, explosions, aliens, and sequel after sequel, it is refreshing to have a film come along that is unique. The Way, Way Back is the perfect respite for those looking for heartwarming characters, recognizable memories, and a story line that is easy going yet emotional. Written by the award winning duo of Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (they also penned The Descendants), this movie needs to be seen by anyone who gravitates toward coming of age tales; for the young and old.
The story focuses on 14-year-old Duncan (Liam James). He is heading on a summer vacation to a lake front community with his mom (Toni Collette) and her new boyfriend, Trent (Steve Carell). Duncan is a reserved kid who is not too thrilled about a summer surrounded by new people. Trent is somewhat overbearing, and from the start, you can tell that he and Duncan have zero compatibility. It is only when Duncan is befriended by the owner of the local water park (Sam Rockwell) that he finally starts to come out of his shell.
This movie has much to offer and it is hard to find anything wrong with it. Liam James may be a new face to screens but he will immediately capture your attention, and you feel for his character right off. The rest of the cast fold right into the mix and there is no weak link.
The most surprising role is that of Trent. We are so used to loving Carell, and he usually has something endearing about his roles. At any minute, you expect Trent to do or say the right thing. Steve truly embraces this new direction and causes you to despise his character.
Rockwell delivers a memorable, funny, and believable character. His wit and loveable charm is spot on. He has a soft spot for Duncan and reaches out to him. Not in a coddling way but sort of like an older brother who is a big kid at heart. He treats Duncan like family and that is way more than he is getting at home. It is the moments spent at the water-park that make this film a fantastic summer flick.
The Way, Way Back is rated PG-13 for thematic elements, language, some sexual content and brief drug material. This is an adult film simply because of the smart dialogue, heavy themes, and lackadaisical movement. Even though it is PG-13 many under 18 will find its lack of action and novel like characters a tad slow.
Those who love strongly written scripts and a film that is emotional yet never bogs down delightful; this is your must see. I give it 4.5 out of 5 bike rides. You will laugh a lot, tear up a few times, and walk out of the movie feeling good about life.
Last Updated on Friday, 12 July 2013 01:15
Written by Matt Mungle
Title: The Lone Ranger
There is a lot to be said for the new adventure-action-western, The Lone Ranger. Granted it may not be what you want to hear if you are a diehard fan of both westerns and the classic character. The over the top action, tongue and cheek humor, and a very uncharacteristic Tonto make this a modern film that is sure to please moviegoers even if it doesn't sit well in the saddle with others.
Set early in the settling of the old west, the story of how John Reid (Armie Hammer) became the masked man of justice we know as The Lone Ranger is told by his trusted and odd sidekick Tonto (Johnny Depp). The two men, Reid an educated lawyer and Tonto a peculiar scout, are thrown together as they try and hunt down a ruthless fugitive who seems to be at the center of something even more unlawful. They are caught in the middle of a wealthy railroad tycoon (Tom Wilkinson) and disgruntled Native Americans and have to stand alone in order to see justice served.
It is no surprise that if you have a film from the Disney Studio, directed by Gore Verbinski (Pirates of the Caribbean), with Depp as an oddball character; Tonto is going to somewhat resemble Jack Sparrow. Granted he never says, "what happened to all the rum" but his quirky mannerisms and facial expressions are right out of the Sparrow play book. That is ok though, because it does add lots of humor to the movie, and Depp has it down pat. The Tonto we know from the TV series is way too serious and stoic for today's audiences. This route works much better.
The Lone Ranger has plenty of action and western antics. Lots of horse riding, gun fights, and prairie visuals. Yet it never feels like a western. The fast edits, colorful dialogue, and zany humor spice it up enough to make it simply a fun adventure. Armie Hammer is the perfect Reid/Ranger with his pure morals and love for justice. His naive demeanor and innocent stare are reminiscent of a young Brendon Frasier. He is the perfect guy for the role and a solid screen partner for the outlandish Depp.
The film is rated PG-13 for sequences of intense action and violence, and some suggestive material. It is safe for those family members who love the Pirates films and flock to the big screen for all the blockbusters. The language is super clean and the only suggestive material comes in the form of a brothel owner (Helena Bonham Carter) and a few saloon girls. The gun play is prominent and the bad guy (played fantastically by William Fichtner) is pretty menacing. If you are concerned about that sort of thing, then be aware that it is a big part of the action. Other than that it is a surprisingly fun and entertaining film that is a perfect summer addition to the theater screens. One final word of advice; at 2 hours 29 minutes in length you had better make a restroom stop before grabbing your seat.
Last Updated on Friday, 12 July 2013 01:15
Written by Matt Mungle
Title: Man of Steel
Superman is one of the most recognizable superheroes due in part to the countless film adaptations and the popular television series. Even The Electric Company had a character modeled after him called LetterMan. "It's a word, it's a plan; it's LetterMan." The question still remains if we needed another film and if so what does it have to contain to be successful? Man of Steel has to earn its metal.
Zack Snyder (300, Sucker Punch, The Watchmen) takes the helm as director this time which already is a step in the right direction. His past films have been visually stunning, yet he is able to bring out the morality of the subject regardless how dark the content. He uses the screen like a painter uses the canvas, maybe better than most directors out there. Also he loves the franchise and would never do anything to harm its reputation. He is able to make the long time Superman fans happy while also offering up a fantastic film to the newbies.
The most important element by far is the guy in the suit. Superman has traits and characteristics that have to be forefront. He has to embody truth, justice and the American way. He must be able to bend steel yet have the demeanor that would not harm a fly. Henry Cavill (Clark Kent/Superman) is a near perfect fit all around. According to Producer Deborah Snyder, Cavill had the part as soon as he put the suit on. There is no doubting his on screen presence and he makes a solid Man of Steel.
There is little fault it find in the rest of the cast. Diane Lane (Martha Kent), Kevin Costner (Jonathan Kent), Amy Adams (Lois Lane), and Russell Crowe (Jor-El) each bring depth and believability to their role. A lot hinged too on the bad guy: hard to be a hero with no villain to purge. Michael Shannon brings his dark, brooding, intensity to the role of General Zod. Shannon has the right balance of intelligence and insanity that is perfect for a ruthless bad guy.
The action in the film is prominent. There is a lot of back story while we get the history of Clark and how it was growing up with this secret. The first half of the movie we follow him around as he tries to blend in with society. It isn't until Zod shows up on Earth that he has to step up to the truth. Once that happens there is plenty of excitement, fist fights, and superhuman strength to fill the need. The film is a bit lengthy and many will be ready to leave once it is over. They could have shaved 20 minutes off of the final conflict and been better for it.
Man of Steel is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence, action and destruction, and for some language. It is certainly made for older fans of the franchise. Younger viewers will be bored with the early dialogue and a bit overwhelmed with the destruction.
Superman is no Tony Stark so don't expect any awkward adult moments - 14 and up is certainly reasonable for this outing. I give it a solid 4 out of 5 super suits. Not sure we needed another Superman film, but at least we got a really good one.
Last Updated on Monday, 17 June 2013 15:40
Written by Matt Mungle
Title: After Earth
I think movie audiences are ready to forgive M. Night Shyamalan for The Happening, The Last Airbender, and anything else that isn’t The Sixth Sense. He has made more good films than bad ones, but sadly it seems the bad ones are the ones we remember. So with the release of the new sci-fi thriller After Earth, it was time for him to prove his merit.
This is a story all about how the Earth got flipped turned upside down. Well not exactly, but since it stars Will Smith, I could not help but type that. Smith portrays Cypher Raige, a futuristic, military, Ranger. His son Kitai Raige (Jaden Smith) wants badly to find favor in his dad’s eyes. When Cypher takes Kitai on a mission that goes horribly wrong, Kitai finally gets that opportunity. They live somewhere other than Earth, though that is really never explained in full. Not that it matters. All we have to know is that Earth in no longer inhabitable due to our abuse of the environment. All that remains are vicious animals. So when Cypher and Kitai crash land on Earth and Cypher is badly wounded, it is up to Kitai to overcome the environment and save his father.
Like most of Shyamalan’s stories this one has promise. It has a decent foundation of the father and son dynamic. You immediately feel for Kitai and want him and Cypher to engage with each other. The casting of the real life father and son Smith’s help that tremendously. The chemistry onscreen works. Like most of M.’s stories though it has a hard time getting past a story line. Once the story starts fleshing out, it becomes apparent that a whole lot of nothing is happening. It looks good, and there are a few intense moments of action, but other than that the whole thing just seems sort of stagnate.
Last Updated on Monday, 03 June 2013 15:51
Written by Contributor
By Matt Mungle
Title: Iron Man 3
My first thought when I received the notice for the Iron Man 3 screening was, "do we need another Iron Man movie?" The first film was superb. The second one, mediocre at best; plus we had a good dose of the suited, brilliant, billionaire, playboy Tony Stark in the Avengers film. My concern was not only that the franchise would suffer with more movies, but also that viewer burnout would be high. Boy, am I glad when I am wrong. This could be the best helping of Iron Man yet.
Though certainly not an origin film, we do get a bit of back-story into Tony and the current villain. We quickly get to present day in the wake of the alien attacks witnessed in The Avengers. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is more popular than ever and his relationship with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) closer than ever. Things are humming along until a maniacal terrorist by the name of The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) begins plotting an attack against the U.S. It will take all of Stark's brain power to come out on top.
There is no doubt that RDJ is the reason we gravitate to the franchise. Yes Iron Man is cool but it is Stark that is the rock star. That could be the reason that in this one we get more of Tony outside the suit. He said clearly in the first film, "I am Iron Man." This allows him to carry the film fine just as he is. But don't worry. There is a bunch of heavy metal in this one for those who simply want the fire power. And they are the best creation yet.
This one has a superb villain too which is a must for super hero films. Kingsley gives a performance that will astound. Guy Pearce also stars as Aldrich Killian, a scientist that sadly chooses the dark side to work his skills. The story line is solid and does not rely simply on gadgets and familiarity. It is engaging from start to finish and offers up tons of Stark sarcasm and humor. You will find yourself laughing out loud then on the edge of your seat and instantly cheering. Also, the effects and visuals are incredible. The action sequences are well thought out and executed with precision.
Iron Man 3 is rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence throughout, and brief suggestive content. This does nothing content wise than the other before it. I give it 4.5 out of 5 rewires. After the barrage of Marvel films and an onslaught of hero flicks, you would think it would grow old. But this one delivers everything you want and will revitalize your excitement for the summer heroes.
Last Updated on Monday, 06 May 2013 13:30