The Last Witch Hunter

WitchHunter

Summit | PG-13 | Breck Eisner
Pictured:
 But does Vin Diesel dream? And if so, of what?

3(Note: The following review was originally published at Consequence of Sound.)

Early on in The Last Witch Hunter, Kaulder (Vin Diesel) hotwires a series of ancient runes in order to prevent a suddenly conjured thunderstorm from tearing the plane he’s on out of the sky. You did not misread this; in the film’s universe, weather runes should not be concealed together in close quarters, lest sky tornadoes suddenly erupt. Were The Last Witch Hunter the kind of film that ran with this sort of outlandish idea, following an immortal being through various misadventures in the world of ill-applied magic, it might have proven more engaging than the film that ensues instead, one that’s every bit as generic as its misnomer of a title. (more…)

Crimson Peak

CrimsonPeak

Universal | R | Guillermo Del Toro
Pictured:
 The fog of fear and mystery.

7(Note: The following review was originally published at Consequence of Sound.)

It’s established within the first few words spoken aloud in Crimson Peak that hauntings aren’t just for the metaphors within the manuscript that Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) is working on. “Ghosts are real. That much I know.” While Edith is working on the kind of story in which ghosts represent all the past and present sins of the currently living, Crimson Peak sees specters as not only everything that Edith understands them to be, but also as tangible, physical things. Things that haunt you even when the  rational mind dictates that they’re just apparitions. Things that can touch you, and in turn, touch back. Things that follow you no matter how far you might try to go to elude them. (more…)

Steve Jobs

SteveJobsHeader

Universal | R | Danny Boyle
Pictured:
 The artist in all his smug ignominy.

7(Note: The following review was originally published at Consequence of Sound.)

“Computers aren’t art,” bellows Woz.

“Fuck you,” retorts a hostile Jobs.

Eventually, Steve Jobs won this argument, but in the moment, Jobs (Michael Fassbender) and Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen) aggressively disagree in a garage over the creative potential and purpose of home computing. Jobs may have likely been a pain in the ass, a bully, a Machiavellian prince of the modern age, but man did he get to put his name on some important technology. Steve Jobs, the new production from Aaron Sorkin and Danny Boyle, purports that Jobs’ greatness was inherently at odds with his bad-guy qualities, and damned if it doesn’t make for some soapy theatrics. Steve Jobs subverts the biopic genre by approaching it as a whip-smart play told in three acts, which opts not to glorify its lead subject. In lieu of delicacy, the Jobs of this film is a real bastard, which makes Steve Jobs all the better. Devils usually make for more salacious stories than saints, after all. Just look at The Social Network. (more…)

He Named Me Malala

MalalaHeader

Fox Searchlight | PG-13 | Davis Guggenheim
Pictured:
 The new face of progress.

4(Note: The following review was originally published at Consequence of Sound.)

Have you seen the Malala Yousafzai Daily Show interview? She’s an amazing person and a fantastic subject, with such a passionate voice. Yousafzai’s deep and meaningful true story about her struggle against the Taliban is shocking, but she brings with her a message for world peace, gender rights, and the value of education. The teen activist doesn’t so much grab our attention as she commands it. She speaks in such spirited rhetoric that it seems like a really great documentary could be tailor-made for her.

It’s a shame, then, that He Named Me Malala will not be regarded as that great doc. (more…)

Yakuza Apocalypse

YakuzaApoc

Samuel Goldwyn | R | Takashi Miike
Pictured:
ENTER THE FROG MAN

6(Note: The following review was originally published at Consequence of Sound.)

There is an extremity to death and violence in a Takashi Miike movie that few other filmmakers ever try to muster. His propensity for grotesquely exaggerated sound effects and hard-hitting fits of carnage make filmic violence visceral again, in a way so few movies manage in an era where, around the globe, large-scale destruction has supplanted old-fashioned fist-to-face brutality as the dominant cinematic language of destruction. But Miike doesn’t stop at the big setpieces. Every punch is bone-shattering, every kick a loud concussion that leaves you wincing. And no matter how outlandish his films get, even in the case of a thoroughly outlandish film like Yakuza Apocalypse, the violence hurts. (more…)

Freeheld

FreeheldHeader

Summit | PG-13 | Peter Sollett
Pictured:
A couple who just want to be treated like anyone else.

5(Note: The following review was originally published at Consequence of Sound.)

Freeheld is a film with grand intentions and little to no idea what to do with them beyond the point of having them. It’s based on a true story, following Laurel Hester (Julianne Moore) and her partner Stacie Andree (Ellen Page), as they struggled against the system for the right to have Laurel transfer her pension and benefits to Stacie when her lung cancer eventually got the better of her. Intermittently it is also a treatise on tolerance, a melancholic romance, an aggressively pointed political satire, and a maudlin melodrama, all concluding in an inspirational Miley Cyrus track. It is a film that means to display the ways in which discrimination is still fundamentally built into law and government procedure to this day, and this is admirable, but Freeheld also makes the crucial decision to dole out its various lessons with a bludgeon. (more…)

Pan

PanHeader

Warner Bros. | PG | Joe Wright
Pictured:
Tfw you realize that this thing’s about to hemmorage millions of dollars.

4(Note: The following review was originally published at Consequence of Sound.)

We live in the age of origin stories now. The source of this really depends on who you ask; for some, it’s the proliferation of superhero movies that spurred on studios’ interest in going back to the roots of popular characters. Others may say that it’s a general phobia on the part of creators or audiences or both to take in new and original stories, instead preferring to hedge their bets on something familiar to them told anew. (more…)

The Final Girls

finalgirlsheader

Sony | PG-13 | Todd Strauss-Schulson
Pictured:
“Wait, so we’re not even getting a theatrical release?”

9(Note: The following review was originally published at Consequence of Sound.)

Max (Taissa Farmiga) just can’t live Camp Bloodbath down. In the ‘80s, Max’s mother Nancy (Malin Akerman) starred in that film, a summer camp slasher flick that’s since garnered a cult following for its hilarious overacting, paper-thin writing, and innovative kills. But for Max, Camp Bloodbath isn’t just a bad horror movie that all her friends enjoy. It’s a painful reminder that her mother is no longer with her, and she can’t help but avert her eyes every time the young, nubile Nancy meets her bloody end for having dared to have sex in an ‘80s horror movie. (more…)

Mississippi Grind

MissGringHeader

A24 | R | Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck
Pictured:
You gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em.

6(Note: The following review was originally published at Consequence of Sound.)

At first, Mississippi Grind might trick you into thinking it’s a raw gambling feature. An indie with two dudes out on the open road, photographed with Altman-esque naturalism as they struggle with their demons and push each other into mischief? The directors, Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, are known for this kind of stuff and have a navel gazer’s penchant for society’s side characters, the under-appreciated and misunderstood. Gamblers? They’re outliers, and just plain liars. (more…)

Prophet’s Prey

ProphetsPraysHeader

Showtime | NR | Amy J. Berg
Pictured:
When religious devotion is taken to hideous extremes.

8(Note: The following review was originally published at Consequence of Sound.)

Prophet’s Prey is hardly the first documentary to chronicle the many sins committed by former Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) leader Warren Jeffs, but it’s among the most comprehensive and disturbing. Where the urge, somewhat understandably, has long been to paint Jeffs’ exploits as a lurid tabloid story of fringe religious sects gone horribly awry, Prophet’s Prey focuses on what it must: on Jeffs, on the things he’s done, and on the continuous revelations that have kept his name in the news, time and again. (more…)