A movie for those who feel like laughing hard
Ice Cube, Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star in "21 Jump Street."
- “21 Jump Street”
★★★★ 1/2 (out of four)
2012, Dirs. Phil Lord and Chris Miller, U.S., R
“21 Jump Street” is rated R for profanity, violence, drug use, nudity and sexual situations.
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‘Wrath of the Titans’
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Genre: Action, adventure.
Director: Tarsem Singh.
Starring: Lily Collins, Julia Roberts.
The plot: An evil queen steals control of a kingdom and an exiled princess enlists the help of seven resourceful rebels to win back her birthright.
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- Film roundup
★★ (out of four)
I was going to give the movie a fair shake and — gasp! — actually grant it the consideration of a review. And why not? Because it’s a “found footage” comedy about teenagers partying? Because its sense of humor is base and degrading to society as a whole? (Oh noes! For the love of God, will somebody please think of the children?!) Nuts to that. At a time when roughly 97 percent of mainstream movies are assembly-line productions adhering to a rigid template of ineptitude, I’m willing to take a shot with something like “Project X.”Turns out slightly I misjudged the situation, and the film does in fact kinda suck. I get where it was coming from in attempting to re-create that great “’80s party movie” vibe with a more contemporary style and sense of humor, but in trying to be the end-all-be-all of crazy party flicks, the film often seems like it’s simply trying too hard — like that socially awkward guy you see at a party who’s coming on entirely too strong to everyone he meets in a desperate, last-ditch effort to meet people before inevitably dying alone and afraid.
“THE WOMAN IN BLACK”
For “The Woman in Black,” based on Black’s old-school gothic ghost story published in 1983, is not merely a moderately interesting genre diversion, as I had assumed. It’s a fully formed, carefully crafted horror movie in the classical Hammer Films sense, bursting with style and atmosphere and an unrelenting sense of dread. I’m left to wonder if there has been a more entertaining or frightening ghost story released in the past decade, but for now I’m coming up blank.
As directed by Daniel Espinosa, marking his U.S. debut, “Safe House” is yet another in a long line of generic action pictures assembled from the Tony Scott model, defined by dark, grainy photography, excessively rapid editing techniques that render action sequences incoherent, and a reliance on useless narrative padding that turns what should have been an 80-minute diversion into a two-hour torture session. I guess there’s not much to say about this approach aside from observing once again that it is terrible and stupid and should be stopped by any means necessary, but it also begs the question: Why? It’s not like Tony Scott movies clean up at the box office, and in fact the countless clones typically do even worse business. So why has this mode of filmmaking, which is constantly lampooned by the public and critics alike and doesn’t even earn its keep by producing reasonable box office results, become so incredibly popular in contemporary Hollywood? This is not rhetorical; I’m actually asking, and hope that someone can shed some light on this. Because I’m stumped.
Posted: Friday, March 23, 2012 8:07 am
We’re finally out of the post-winter doldrums and in the midst of the buildup to the summer movie season, and I must admit I’m pretty psyched. With any luck we have a handful of high-quality event movies to look forward to (on that note, check back next time for a look at “The Hunger Games”), and perhaps some of the “lesser” titles will provide some pleasant surprises. Take this week’s pick, which I was initially not even going to see until early reviews swayed my opinion just enough to give it a shot. Turns out it’s the best time I’ve had at the movies so far this year, and easily the most flat-out funny flick I’ve seen since last year’s “Horrible Bosses.” Go figure, huh?
I’ve been writing this column for a long time, and sometimes I wonder how I’ve survived without completely losing my passion for film. So many bad movies, so many crushing disappointments, so much dwelling on the negative — how’s a guy supposed to keep the faith week in and week out? The answer, strange as it may seem: movie’s like “21 Jump Street.”
Arts and Entertainment
Friday, March 23, 2012 8:07 am.