Written and Directed by: Alex Garland Starring: Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Tuva Novotny, and Oscar Isaac. Rated: R for violence, bloody images, language, and some sexuality. You know that feeling when you really enjoyed a movie or TV show and a little later, you find yourself saying, “but what about…?” The nickname for that is “fridge logic,” and “Annihilation,” based loosely on the bestselling novel of the same name by Jeff VanderMeer, has some major fridge logic issues. Everything else about it is pretty great, so if you’re looking more for an experience than for an intellectual challenge it’s a good bet. Our hero, Lena (Natalie Portman), is a former-soldier, current-professor who teaches oncology to medical students. Her still-a-soldier husband Kane (Oscar Isaacs) has been missing for a year. When he shows up in their house, disoriented and largely unresponsive, she’s thrilled – until he collapses, and the two of
Making what is essentially a prequel to one of the most beloved films of all time is a risky business. “Oz, The Great and Powerful” gives us the story of how the titular wizard in “The Wizard of Oz” got to where he is when Dorothy meets him. It’s not a perfect film by any means, but it has all the magic and charm we can expect from a Disney film.
Sometimes watching a movie is sort of like watching a train wreck in slow motion, as if a child has set up a train set so that several trains will all smash into each other. “Killing Them Softly” is a movie like that. We know from the moment we meet most of the characters that they are doomed, that they are going to make bad mistakes and follow them up with more, and that the character who’s likely to come out on top is the one who makes the fewest stupid decisions.
Kids movies that take the time and trouble to be enjoyable by and accessible to grownups have a special place in my heart, especially when they’re fairly smart and creatively designed. “Rise of the Guardians” falls into this camp, and I enjoyed the first hour and twenty minutes enough to forgive the last ten for not living up to their promise.
Hollywood loves making movies about movies, especially ones that mock the film industry. Make one that’s a movie about a fake movie and a period piece to boot, and you have a winner. That winner is “Argo,” which tells the story of how the CIA teamed up with Hollywood and the Canadian government to rescue six Americans who managed to avoid being captured as part of the Iranian hostage crisis.
Jason Bourne is familiar to folks who love movies about international intrigue, spies, and highly-trained assassins. Matt Damon brought us the amnesiac operative in three films, tracing Bourne’s journey as he recovered from near-drowning, got some of his memory back, and confronted his creators at the CIA. “The Bourne Legacy” brings us a new hero in the same world, a subject in a program similar to Bourne’s, whose life is torn apart as a result of Bourne’s actions.
If all you know about “Magic Mike” is that it’s a movie about male strippers, you are in for a surprise. Firstly, the film is loosely based on star Channing Tatum’s life as an exotic dancer before he became a model and then an actor. Secondly, at heart it’s a story about a man who has to choose between living an easy life following the path his mentor has laid out for him, or growing up and striking out on his own.
Directed by: David Foenkinos, Stéphane Foenkinos Starring: Audrey Tautou, Francois Damiens, Bruno Todeschini, Melanie Bernier, Josephine de Meaux, Pio Marmai Rated: PG-13 for some strong language
Firstly, a confession: I have not read “The Hunger Games” books. This is actually something of an advantage, going into a movie adaptation without knowledge of the original material, because I can’t be disappointed by bad versions of favorite scenes or saved from confusion by having read the book. Unfortunately, it means I can’t really tell you how the film compares to the book. What I can tell you is that it’s a solid and exciting movie.
Disney has a knack for producing movies that aren’t terribly demanding, but are very entertaining for kids of all ages, including grown-up ones. “John Carter,” loosely adapted from the Edgar Rice Burroughs book “A Princess of Mars,” is just such a flick. If you’re the kind of person who can’t set aside science and enjoy a grand adventure on the surface of Mars, this is not a movie for you.