We catch up with Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) after he has left San Diego for New York City with his now wife and co-anchor Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) and their son Walter Burgundy. But when legendary anchor Mack Tannen (Harrison Ford) decides to retire, he promotes Veronica to full time lead anchor and fires Ron. Ron’s shot at redemption comes not long after from Freddie Schapp (Dylan Baker), an executive producer at the fledgling Global News Network, the world’s first 24 hour round the clock news channel. Ron proceeds to reunite the news team of Champ (David Koechner), Brick (Steve Carell), and Brian (Paul Rudd) and brings them to New York where fame and fortune change everything.
Anchorman 2 is less a movie than a series of thinly connected sketches. Fortunately, a lot more of the gags are successful than not and contain many laugh out loud moments. Playing into this is the fact that director Adam McKay likes to simply let the camera run, evidenced by the fact that there was enough material to release an entirely different ‘super-sized’ version in theaters and on this Blu-ray on top of an extended and theatrical cut. McKay doesn’t appear to do much directing here at any point, all of these actors have been cultivating these characters for nearly a decade now. (more…)
X-Men: Days of Future Past features the biggest ensemble of mutants put together on film to date as both the original cast and the newer cast from X-Men: First Class join together to fight a war for the survival of both human and mutant kind across two time periods. When the future war between mutant/mankind and the treacherous sentinels near its darkest hour the small but steadfast group of X-Men still alive –Professor X (Patrick Stewart), Storm (Halle Berry), Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), Magneto (Ian McKellen) – meet up with former students Kitty Pride (Ellen Page), Iceman (Shawn Ashmore) and their compatriots to form one last ditch effort to save all their lives. Wolverine is sent back in time to join the then rival Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) together to stop the events that lead to the mass destruction to come.
The star studded cast also brings backs Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique and introduces Peter Dinklage as the man responsible for the sentinels, Bolivar Trask. Director Bryan Singer manages to coordinate all of this chaos into a complex yet balanced story that features the entire mutant cast getting enough exposure that they are not wasted while still feature the few that audiences really want to see. The film also packs some effective twists and some memorable cameos from other mutants that will delight audiences. The script ingeniously leaves room for multiple follow ups involving either cast and manages to reset the entire mutant universe in one shot.
Jason (Zac Efron) is womanizer that always bails out of a relationship just as it gets serious. But when one of his best friends Mikey’s (Michael B. Jordan) wife asks for a divorce, all while sleeping with her divorce lawyer, Jason sees it as an opportunity to get his boys back together and hit the clubs. Along with Daniel (Miles Teller), the three best friends make a pack to stay single together and just have fun. But then Jason meets Ellie (Imogen Poots), who just might be the first girl who’s perfect for him, Daniel starts fooling around with gal pal Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis), and Mikey starts a secret last ditch attempt to win his wife’ s affection back.
That Awkward Moment is a film full of awkwardness and wasted talent. The normally engaging and accomplished Miles Teller and Michael B Jordan seem to be pulled down by the anchor that is the lackluster performance of Zac Efron. The wooden Efron sticks out like a sore thumb, and considering the adorable Imogen Poots can never not be loveable, it makes the chemistry between the two of them almost non-existent. Poots may be the only one who is really trying here as Teller seems to treating the film like summer school -constantly goofing off, adlibbing and riffing – and Jordan seems to have a constant “what am I doing here” look on his face. Any chemistry that the trio possess off-screen is lost in translation, which will make the prospects of the new Fantastic Four film with Teller and Jordan very interesting.
After losing his last chance at a his only major client, JB Bernstein (Jon Hamm) concocts a scheme to find baseball’s next great pitching ace as a last ditch effort to save his career. Hoping to tap into the last untouched market for baseball, India, JB hopes to find a young cricket pitcher that he can turn into a major league star. JB concocts a reality show competition called “Million Dollar Arm”, that with the help of investors he travels to India to launch with the help of a cantankerous but eagle-eyed retired baseball scout (Alan Arkin). The competition produces Dinesh (Madhur Mittal) and Rinku (Suraj Sharma), two 18 year old boys who have no idea about playing baseball, yet possess a raw talent for throwing a fastball. As the boys learn the finer points of baseball, JB, with the help of his pool house tenant Brenda (Lake Bell), starts to learn valuable lessons about teamwork, commitment and what it means to be a family.
Million Dollar Arm is a predictable and formulaic sports tale that happens to be based on a true story. A harmless tale that lacks any staying power, the film is almost forgettable immediately after exiting the theater, Million Dollar Arm wastes the talents of many talented people involved while producing the most plain and dull product it can. Most of the cast seem to be slumming here; Hamm tries his best despite the cookie cutter script but really has nothing to deliver. The normally reliable and talented Arkin, Bill Paxton and Lake Bell seem to be barely even attempting to produce anything, partially due to the script but also because they all look bored and uninterested for the duration of the film.
In Scotland, an alien life-form takes the body of an attractive young woman (Scarlett Johansson), and then proceeds to travel the country in a cube van seducing men. As she lures her victims into a trap with the promise of sex, the men are deceived and abducted, never to be seen again. She is monitored by another alien, in the form of a male motorcyclist, who mops up any mess she leaves behind. After she takes pity on one of her victims and allows him to escape, she is forced to evaluate how much ‘humanity’ she possesses and whether she wishes to continue doing what she was brought to earth to do or to strike out on her own.
Under the Skin is one of the most unique and fascinating stories we are likely to see on screen this year. The film features a strikingly bold performance from Scarlett Johansson, a performance that is completely unlike anything she has portrayed before, and with her acting alongside mainly nonprofessional actors the weight of carrying the film falls almost entirely on her very capable shoulders. (more…)
Originally published at Dork ShelfAfter suffering a hemorrhagic stroke, Scottish singer-songwriter Edwyn Collins ended up slipping into a coma. After waking, it was discovered quite quickly he had suffered acute aphasia, a condition that affects the brain and leads to problems using language. Other than yes and no, the only other phrases Edwyn could use were the name of his wife ‘Grace Maxwell’ and the titular ‘The Possibilities are Endless’. The film employs lush cinematography and sound design to attempt an encompassing and sensory exploration of Collins’ recovering mind through this time while also showing us where he has progressed to today.
Directors Edward Lovelace and James Hall use interviews with Collins and his wife Grace Maxwell as the narration over moving abstract imagery in the film’s first half and recovered footage of Edwyn in the latter half to guide the film. The technique works quite well as, with the film mirroring Edwyn’s own recovery and progression. The film also uses re-enactments of the couple’s courtship and life together to help illustrate what’s truly an epic love story. (more…)
Originally published at Dork ShelfLove Me examines the Ukrainian mail-order bride business (which has gotten even more lucrative in the past decade) and the single men willing to risk their money to find companionship. The film follows 6 men of varying backgrounds and motivations and examines their relationship to the industry and the women they meet. The men take trips to the Ukraine where they encounter bombshells who cut straight to the point: they each want a man serious about marriage.
The 6 guys picked as the subjects for Love Me are very strategically placed to show the whole spectrum of outcomes of Internet dating, with some successful, some taken for a ride, and one in particular that’s to be a bit of a creep, yet he blames the women for not being interested. (more…)