Saturday, June 28, 2008


Check your logic at the door and strap yourself in for quite a ride. "Wanted" borrows liberally from the stunt work begun in "The Matrix" but raises the bar considerably.

James McAvoy plays Wes, a nobody in a dead-end cubicle job who is recruited by Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman into a secret society of assassins. The plot is secondary to the action and there is plenty of it. Ms. Jolie basically plays the same role as she did in "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" only with more of an edge. Mr. McAvoy is well cast as the assassin in training who slowly comes to believe in himself.

The stunt work is nothing short of spectacular and you will do yourself a disservice if you don't see this on a big screen. An early car chase is breathtaking and a train crash later on, while just impossible to believe, is still amazing to watch.

"Wanted" is a perfect action packed summer "popcorn" movie.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Get Smart

Way too many TV shows get remade as feature films and fail miserably. I'm happy to say, "Get Smart" doesn't fall into that trap. It is a fun, updated homage to the TV show starring Don Adams but it "smartly" avoids the pitfalls that have caused so many to crash and burn at the box office.

Steve Carrell is the perfect choice to play Maxwell Smart, Agent 86. Mr. Carrell doesn't try to mimic Mr. Adam's role but instead finds an original voice while staying true to the character. Even the familiar catchphrases are spoken as casual remarks without any forced fanfare. Ann Hathaway assumes the role of Agent 99, originally played by Barbara Felton and she too breathes new life into the character while remaining true to the spirit. Alan Arkin plays the Chief as more of a departure from the original but is still quite effective. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is well cast as Agent 23 and there are quite a few surprise cameos.

Taking a 1/2 hour comedy to the big screen requires the filmmakers to up the ante for action and special effects. The film delivers on all fronts. There is plenty of action, terrific stunt work and lots of legitimate laughs.

A very enjoyable summer comedy that works... and sets up the inevitable sequel.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Incredible Hulk

A vast improvement over the Ang Lee version from a few years back but still strictly for fans of the comic. The story closely follows the comic with a few minor changes.

Edward Norton is perfectly cast as Bruce Banner and William Hurt makes a fine General "Thunderbolt" Ross. Liv Tyler tries too hard and doesn't really do justice to Betty Ross. As Emile Blonsky, Tim Roth adds his usual blend of psychosis and gravitas. Tim Blake Nelson has a small but pivotal role which, if the sequel gets made, will become much more important.

The action sequences are nicely balanced with the human drama and the final battle between The Hulk and The Abomination had the audience actually clapping and cheering. The CGI Hulk is also an improvement over the Lee version but still too obvious.

There are some holes in the plot but also a few pleasant surprises, setting up a Marvel movie franchise for years to come.

Monday, June 09, 2008

You Don't Mess With The Zohan

I was sucker punched by a pretty funny trailer. There's no need to mess with The Zohan as it's already a mess. By far the crudest and most pointless Adam Sandler comedy yet. I wish I could say the film has some potential but, from the start, it's horrible and goes downhill from there.

The film is jammed with star cameos that are completely wasted, except a pretty funny line from Mariah Carey. The point of the film, can't we all just get along, is buried in bad taste Arab and Israeli jokes. Countless penis and crotch jokes, sex with senior citizens, the abuse of an cat (thankfully an obvious fake) and Lannie Kazan's bare rear-end will have you running from the theater.

Personally I never walk out on a film. I'd hate for someone to tell me the last ten minutes were pure genius. No worries here. Save your money and don't even walk in.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Sex And The City

I admit it. I'm in touch with my feminine side and enjoyed this series very much. The film is a very satisfying visit with old friends.

Michael Patrick King does a nice job mixing the various sub-plots of Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte while still keeping Carrie in the spotlight. The girls have aged a bit and are all dealing with various new issues but King doesn't stray too far from the box and keeps everything very familiar.

The cast wear their characters like their wardrobe...fabulous, and all your favorite supporting players turn support. New York still sparkles like the fairytale version depicted on the TV series.

Half the fun of watching the film in a theater is listening to the audience reactions during the screening. Besides the expected laughing and crying, you'll probably hear many comments you weren't expecting and much of it is unintentionally very funny.