Saturday, September 27, 2014

THE BOXTROLLS - Beautifully Bizarre

I'm not entirely sure who The Boxtrolls is "for" (other than me) in the sense of target demographic or potential audience. It's a stop-motion animated film, hardly an historically record-breaker at the box office, and Laika (the studio behind Coraline and ParaNorman) hasn't bucked this trend. And while it's been marketed as a family film, its tone and sensibilities have more in common with PG-rated "kids" films of the 80's than more modern fare, the kind like Ghostbusters or Gremlins that have just as much material for the adults that will fly far enough over the heads of kid audiences that it's still "safe" for them. Barely.

But I'm pretty ecstatic that it exists at all, regardless of why.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Saturday, June 7, 2014

EDGE OF TOMORROW - Groundhog Troopers

I really like Tom Cruise. There was once a time when this statement wasn't remotely out of the ordinary, as Cruise was one of the few movie stars of the 80's to actually gain popularity in the 90's as the modern ideal of the action hero morphed from beefy Olympian to more of an everyman, but the guy seems to have fallen out of public favor. The fact that, apart from Brad Bird's examplary live-action directing debut on Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol aside, his movies haven't been terribly great lately.

And while he made some bold choices when choosing roles a few times in the last couple decades, lately he seems to have been on - well, for lack of a better term, Cruise Control, choosing parts that ask little from him outside of the ability to smile, punch, and run.

Luckily, Edge of Tomorrow proves to be a major course correction.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST - Making History

Along with 1998's Blade, the original X-men helped to kick-start the modern superhero genre. While a few hallmarks of the original X-films (more serious focus, toning down of the colorful comic book elements) saw themselves reflected in movies like Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy, there was very little else to the early films of the franchise of note, other than giving screen appearances of varying quality to an increasing roster Marvel mutants. As the franchise hit choppy waters with X-men: The Last Stand and X-men Origins: Wolverine, Fox looked for ways to breathe new life in to the franchise.

This paid off with the pretty good The Wolverine from last year, and the very good X-men: First Class from 2011, but interestingly enough it's this year's Days of Future Past that not only restores the franchise's financial success and brings it to new critical heights, but finds a unique twist that both makes Days a compelling film, and also gives the franchise something to truly call its own in a continually crowded field.

In creating one of the most "comic book-like" films ever made, this franchise has actually retconned it's own history.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Summer of Trilogies - X-MEN

This is the second in a series of reflections of film trilogies that helped reshape the blockbuster landscape going into the 21st century, and gave rise to the Golden Age of Geek Cinema. Part 1, covering Sam Raimi's Spider-man Trilogy, ran already. And while those films cemented the superhero as the new heavy hitter at the box office, Marvel was counting on another property to jump-start Spider-man and several other franchises that they'd sold off to various studios.

That property was X-men.