‘Cars’ sequel stalls as Mater takes the spotlight
“Cars 2” is currently in theaters.
- “Cars 2”
★★★ (out of four)
Dirs. John Lasseter and Brad Lewis, U.S., PG
- New films
Director: Frank Coraci.
Starring: Kevin James, Rosario Dawson.
The plot: A group of zoo animals decide to break their code of
silence in order to help their lovable zookeeper (Kevin James) find
love -- without opting to leave his current job for something more
Genre: Comedy, family.
Director: Seth Gordon.
Starring: Jason Bateman, Charlie Day.
The plot: Three friends (Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, and Jason
Sudeikis) make a pact to rid the world of their respective
- Film roundup
★★ 1/2 (out of four)
Here is a film that is fashioned from the Spielberg model, from
the themes of childhood innocence right down to the director’s
trademark photography techniques. Director J.J. Abrams (the
television power player who has attempted to make the leap to the
big screen, with limited success, with “Mission: Impossible III”
and “Star Trek”) has aped Steven Spielberg so well that, sans
credits, one could conceivably mistake “Super 8” as being directed
by the master himself — that is, if you’re only looking at the
‘X-MEN: FIRST CLASS’
Matthew Vaughn is no Christopher Nolan, and “X-Men: First Class”
is no “Dark Knight.” Vaughn does not completely reinvent the genre
here, nor does he dabble in philosophy and subversive themes, as
Nolan does. Vaughn plays things relatively straight (a little
homosexual subtext notwithstanding), but he assembles his
old-fashioned picture with deft precision and confidence. Nolan
wrote the book on how to completely retool a franchise from the
ground up, but Vaughn deserves his own accolades for providing a
template for how to resurrect a good-as-dead film series while
still remaining true to the predecessors’ tone and overall
‘THE HANGOVER PART II’
I went into “The Hangover Part II” with the understanding that I
would be witnessing a cynical act of studio-sanctioned pandering,
and that’s exactly what I got. Yet, since I was going in with
lowered expectations, I was able to let my guard down and
appreciate this crass cash-grab on its own limited terms. And, lo
and behold, I had a good time. I suppose the importance of
creativity is diminished when one is faced with the prospect of a
drug-dealing capuchin monkey riding a motorcycle. Or a heterosexual
man being seduced by a Thai lady-boy, or any number of the other
lewd gags the film lays out with record speed.
‘PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER
You see, against all odds and despite what you may have heard
from basically everybody you’ve ever met, “Pirates of the
Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” is not a bad film. It is not
aggressively stupid, as some have charged, nor is it woefully
boring. Its horridness will not inspire you to burn effigies, and
it is not among the worst films you will see this year. In fact, in
many respects, it is indistinguishable from the rest of the movies
in the series.
But that’s the problem. Uninspired, inert and listless on every
conceivable level, “On Stranger Tides” is perfectly content to
simply exist alongside its predecessors without setting itself
apart in any meaningful way. The result is a summer spectacle
without the spectacle. With nothing even remotely new or
interesting to offer audiences, the film just sits there, waiting
for you to be impressed simply by virtue of the fact that you are
watching a “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie.
Posted: Friday, July 1, 2011 8:19 am
As I’m sure you’ve guessed, we won’t be getting a look at
“Transformers: Dark of the Moon” this week or any other week, for
that matter, as I’ve gotto put my foot down somewhere. I’m still
suffering some lingering ill effects from “Revenge of the Fallen,”
and I simply can’t risk exposure to any more of Michael Bay’s lame
I enjoy spectacle and explosions as much as the next red-blooded
American, but the mind-numbing repetitiveness of the “Transformers”
movies is just too much to bear. On the bright side, I doubt a
negative review from me would have made the slightest difference —
everyone who saw the first two will see this one as well, and in a
couple summers we’ll be treated to “Transformers: Back in Black” or
whatever they’re going to call the next monstrosity. Round and
round we go.
Arts and Entertainment
Friday, July 1, 2011 8:19 am.