The 1996 production of The Island of Dr. Moreau appeared to be doomed well before it was even released in theatres. Stories of on-set turmoil, clashing egos and a replaced director were just some of issues making headlines in the Hollywood trades.
It is 1871 in the American Midwest. After serving in the Danish/German war, Jon (Mads Mikkelsen) and his brother Peter (Mikael Persbrandt) have spent the last several years living on the frontier as pioneers. Jon’s dream of bringing his family to America is finally realized when they arrive in town after they had been apart for seven years.
I’ll likely piss off some readers, especially horror fans, when I say the slasher genre has pretty much been dead for the last two decades. It has been one of the weakest and most under-utilized subgenres of horror film lore, and looking back, it’s been nothing more than remakes, sequels to remakes and cookie-cutter, cliché-riddled schlock.
It’s been nearly sixteen years since the arrival of one of the most anticipated sci-fi fantasy films ever made and one of the most exhilarating and original sci-fi films ever created. One would be reviled by many, and not the one you’d expect, while the other was adored for being so unexpectedly frickin’ cool. The year was 1999. The films were Star Wars-Episode I: The Phantom Menace and The Matrix. It is now 2015, a year where we will not only see a new Star Wars film but also the latest sci-fi epic from the Wachowskis, Jupiter Ascending. It’s a film that is unexpectedly far from cool and surprisingly has much in common with that reviled film that many claimed destroyed their childhood.
For the last several years before the Oscar telecast the short films that have been nominated for an Academy Award are given a rare theatrical release. Presented as separate programs for each short category Animation, Live Action and Documentary, moviegoers have the opportunity to see the shorts that in the past they would seldom ever get to see. For some it’ll give them a leg up in their office Oscar pools; never worked for this viewer, go figure. Outside of knowing that these films are nominated it can be exciting for a filmgoer because you never know what’s in store and much like previous years many of them pack an emotional wallop.
For the last several years before the Oscar telecast the short films that have been nominated for an Academy Award are given a rare theatrical release. Presented as separate programs for each short category Animation, Live Action and Documentary, moviegoers have the opportunity to see the shorts that in the past they would seldom ever get to see. For some it’ll give them a leg up in their office Oscar pools; never worked for this viewer, go figure. Outside of knowing that these films are nominated it can exciting for a filmgoer because you never know what’s in store and this year’s selections were no different.
In 2021, Earth is invaded by an alien force. The combat goes on globally for several years until 2023 when the “Heavies,” as they became known, are driven off the planet. The enemy force, in such a hurry to depart, leave some of their own soldiers behind. Over the next 10 years, the USDF (United Space Defense Force), an international army established to fight the threat, eliminate the remaining Heavies.
“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!”
In Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather Part III, Michael Corleone succinctly sums up how hard it is for a criminal to go legit. No matter how hard you try to escape that world, it will always be over your shoulder. In that sweeping crime saga, audiences knew what Corleone was involved in and can easily understand how hard it is to gain legitimacy. However, what if you were never in it in the first place and were merely guilty by association? That is just one dilemma of many that writer/director J.C. Chandor explores in his understated yet potent crime drama, A Most Violent Year.
Celebrity tabloid TV show host Dave Skylark (James Franco) and his producer Aaron Rapoport (Seth Rogen) have had a successful run with their very popular show “Skylark Tonight.” Skylark has his fans, and detractors, but much to his surprise the Supreme Leader of North Korea Kim Jong-un (Randall Park) is a huge fan. Rapoport reaches out to North Korea to set up an interview with the dictator and is quite stunned when they accept. As the team prepares for its trip, the two receive an unexpected visit from the CIA, which recruits the pair for a very important mission. The CIA wants Skylark to assassinate Kim Jung-un when he meets Kim Jong-un for their interview.
It’s the mid-1960s. Racial intolerance and discrimination still permeate many parts of the country and possibly none more so than in the state of Alabama. While every man and woman of age is granted the right to vote by the Constitution, black citizens are denied the right due to excessively strict criteria that pretty much prevent them from registering. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (David Oyelowo), a recent winner of the Nobel Peace prize, cannot stand idly by as this injustice unfolds.
Possibly one of the most harrowing life experiences is having to face is the fear of being laid off. There is a dark cloud that hovers over you as you are left to ponder just what will happen and just what exactly the future has in store. There are many reasons an owner might lay off staff. Business is bad. Performance issues. Seasonal work has dried up. Keeping the employee would prevent others from receiving annual bonuses. (Wait, what?) But that is just the situation that the Dardenne brothers look at in their latest film, Two Days, One Night.
I’m going to have to address this. I didn’t like Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit Trilogy. There, I said it. I didn’t like it. I hold The Lord of the Rings Trilogy in high regard and consider it the best trilogy I’ve ever witnessed. (While I love the original Star Wars trilogy, I had many issues with Return of the Jedi). I have nothing bad to say about any chapter in Jackson’s original trilogy. While this review is for the latest, and hopefully last, entry in the Middle Earth saga, my issues with the film cannot be addressed without mentioning from whence the source of my displeasure comes.