The idea for "Men in Black," the latest alien opus about cracking down on extraterrestrials hiding out on earth, conjures up a galaxy of surreal comic potential. If you're looking for a moderately entertaining, mega-budgeted, "Far Side" farce that vapor locks just shy of "Ghostbusters," "Men in Black" is your ticket. Even if this uneven outer limits comedy doesn't beam you up, its alleged million-dollar-per-minute special effects that infest the plot with a spawn of dorky aliens should impress you. Mind you, nothing in this delightful movie should give you nightmares. Despite its abundant sight-gags and eye-popping aliens, "Men in Black" frizzles because it relies on the familiar 'oxidize the earth' plot. "Men-In-Black" is a great looking movie hampered by a lame plot. Based on Lowell Cunningham's obscure but sensational Marvel comic from the early 1990s, the story sounds like "Dragnet" meets "Ghostbusters." The subversive but inventive Ed Solomon script struggles to keep a deadpan
Anything can happen in science fiction. The $200-million, sci-fi spectacle "Battleship" (**1/2 OUT OF ****) is as implausible as it is predictable. Nevertheless, despite its contrivance and familiarity, this outlandish, larger-than-life, PG-13 rated, juvenile extravaganza will keep you entertained for most of its lengthy 131 minutes. The anemic end credits scene isn't worth waiting around for but it does assure us about the prospect of a sequel. If you accept the proposition that pugnacious aliens from another galaxy would attack Earth, then none of "Battleship" is far-fetched. The chief problem is predictability. "Battleship" is a contemporary "War of the Worlds" knock-off set on the high seas. Of course, the U.S. Navy defeats these hostile extraterrestrials, with a little help from a former Asian adversary. "Friday Night Lights" director Peter Berg rehabilitates the Japanese for "Battleship." A Japanese naval officer figures out how to locate the aliens after the heroes lose radar.
"Lady Gangster" qualifies as a lively little World War II era B-picture about crime and punishment in America. The prevalent themes in "Lady Gangster" are women versus society, women versus men, and women versus other women. "Danger Signal" director Robert Florey and "Busses Roar" scenarist Anthony Coldeway have contrived a serviceable thriller based on the Dorothy Mackaye and Carlton Miles play "Gangstress, or Women In Prison." The attention to detail is above average. Florey stages a dandy little fistfight between the good guy and the criminals near the climax. Florey and Coldeway had to toe the line with the Production Code Administration in regard to their depiction of the heroine as an accomplice to bank robbers. Consequently, they make her somebody with whom we can sympathize. They provide her with a back story as a failed actress who turned to crime only as a last resort to survive. Moreover, they establish that she is not a career criminal.
"Lady Gangster" opens with Dorothy
"Men in Black 3" (**1/2 OUT OF ****) may be Tommy Lee Jones' last "Men in Black" movie. The Oscar winning "Fugitive" actor makes what amounts to a glorified cameo in the second sequel. He shows up for about a quarter of an hour during the first act of this amusing, but tonally uneven farce and then disappears until about the last ten minutes of act three. Presumably, Jones wasn't agile enough to impersonate himself as a younger man in act two of this lively sequel. Consequently, "Men in Black" director Barry Sonnenfeld cast Josh Brolin as a younger Agent K for the contrived time travel plot in "Tropic Thunder" scenarist Etan Cohen's inventive but convoluted screenplay. Things seem considerably more realistic in "Men in Black 3" as a vindicative villain takes advantage of time travel to trip back to July 1969 and knock off Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) mere moments before the historic Apollo Moon launch. Meaning, since Agent K would no longer exist, Agent K couldn't have recruited Agent J.Read More »from FILM REVIEW of "MEN in BLACK 3" (2012)
- Mike Miao | Author Blog Posts – Tue, Jul 10, 2012 3:18 AM EDT
Read More »from FILM REVIEW of ''SNOW WHITE and the HUNTSMAN" (2012)
Hollywood has been cranking out cinematic adaptations of Snow White since the silent 1916 version. In 1933, vampy cartoon heroine Betty Boop played the raven-haired princess in a 7-minute, surrealistic, black & white cartoon from Max Fleischer's Studios before Disney immortalized our fair maiden. Recently, "Immortals" director Tarsem Singh helmed an adaptation of the Snow White fairy tale called "Mirror, Mirror" with Julia Roberts as the sinful stepmom. Now, rookie British director Rupert Sanders and freshman scenarist Evan Daugherty, along with "The Blind Side" scribe John Lee Hancock and "Drive's" Hossein Amini, have reimagined this melodrama as a much darker chick flick. They've made it palatable not only for girls but also guys. Imagine "Joan of Arc" crossed with "The Lord of the Rings," and you've got a good idea about what to expect. As the second take on the venerable Brothers Grimm fairy tale this year, "Snow White and the Huntsman" (*** out of ****) departs considerably the
Read More »from FILM REVIEW on ''VENGEANCE VALLEY'' (1951)
"Desperate Courage" director Richard Thorpe's adult-themed western "Vengeance Valley" (*** out ****) concerns life on a cattle ranch and the conflict between two men. This isn't a trigger-happy gunslinger shoot'em up. Virtually every character in this tautly-made 83-minute melodrama is involved in either the cattle business or clashes with the cowboys themselves. The characters in Irving Ravetch's screenplay, based on Luke Short's novel, emerge as either completely good or really evil. Meanwhile, Thorpe stages this steer opera against striking, snow-swept scenery, and Robert Walker's villain is a truly treacherous dastard. He is prepared to swindle his father out of money and land and kill the man who has shown him everything that he knows about ranching. Furthermore, he has no qualms about having unshielded sex with single women. In his first and only MGM production, Burt Lancaster delivers a strong performance as the stalwart hero. "Vengeance Valley" was Lancaster's first time in
Hollywood has all but forsaken westerns. Typically, the sagebrushers that are produced turn out lame. "Recoil" director Terry Miles and "Knockout" scenarists Eric Jacobs and Joseph Nasser prove the exception to the rule with their above-average remake of the vintage John Wayne B-movie western "The Dawn Rider." The Wayne oater was a remake of director Lloyd Nosler's oater "Galloping Thru" (1931) with Tom Tyler. As it turns out, "Dawn Rider" (*** out of ****) is the second time that "The Dawn Rider" has been remade; director George Waggner's"Western Trails" (1938) preceded it as the first remake of "The Dawn Rider." In their remake, Miles and his scribes have opened up the action considerably and supplemented the narrative with greater depth as well as length. The original ran a scant 53 minutes compared with the second remake at 94 minutes. Mind you, Christian Slater couldn't fill John Wayne's boots, but he makes a credible western hero in his own right. Donald Sutherland co-stars as
"Hairspray" director Adam Shankman's cinematic adaptation of the 2006 Broadway juke box musical "Rock of Ages" (*** OUT OF ****) qualifies as a predictable but entertaining tear-jerker enhanced by an oldies soundtrack of Top-40 hits. Watching this agile musical comedy romance is like attending a concert, except instead of Styx, Journey, Bon Jovi, Pat Benatar, Twisted Sister, Steve Perry, Poison and Europe warbling their own songs, we get Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Russell Brand singing them. Lip-synching or not, the cast performs the lyrics well enough to make you want to tap your toes, clap your hands, and perhaps join in on the vocalizations. Of course, the old-fashioned, boy-gets-girl, boy-loses-girl, boy-wins-girl back love story that brings everything together is sheer hokum.
Although Tom Cruise is billed last in the opening credits, the "Mission Impossible" superstar steals "Rock of Ages" from young, star-crossed lovers Diego Boneta and Juliana Hough.
Freshman director Fouad Mikati's "Operation Endgame" is a contrived actioneer about two rival teams of top secret government assassins who try to wipe out each other with office products. Okay, this mildly funny 81-minute thriller never scrapes the bottom of the barrel, but it squanders a good cast. Ellen Barkin, Maggie Q, Zach Galifianakis, Ving Rhames, Rob Corddry, and Jeffrey Tabor struggle to make the best of a second-rate situation. Some of the close quarters combat scenes conclude with a surprise or two. Corddry spouts the best lines of dialogue laced with profanity. Mikati and "Bandits" scenarist Sam Levinson spend the first twenty minutes providing hopelessly loquacious exposition about the Factory as well as the agents and their reputations. They do an adequate job of sketching at least one dimension into a gallery of oddball characters, but they emerge a little more than caricatures. Mikati alternates the action between the personnel in the underground facility and two men
Adam Sandler can turn anything into a joke. Whether you laugh at the former "Saturday Night Live" comic's degenerate sense of humor is an entirely different matter. Typically, juvenile delinquent fantasies fuel Sandler's gross out antics. "Sex Drive" director Sean Anders and "Happy Endings" television series scribe David Caspe have ramped up Sandler's impudent humor far beyond anything the lowbrow comedian has attempted. "That's My Boy" (*** out of ****) casts Sandler as a shrill, low-life, irresponsible, adult-adolescent who neglected to mature. Imagine the protagonists of either "Billy Madison" or "The Waterboy" as unrepentant hemorrhoids, and you'll have a good idea what to expect from "That's My Boy." Actually, from premise to performance, "That's My Boy" qualifies as Sandler at his raunchiest. At the same time, "That's My Boy" may challenge even the staunchest Sandler's fans. Mind you, we're not talking the caliber of crude and rude that Sasha Baron Cohen doled out in either
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