Thursday, June 28, 2012

This Week's Movie Reviews - "Ted," "Magic Mike," "People Like Us," "Your Sister's Sister," and "The Amazing Spider-Man"

It's Friday morning again, which means I have a whole slew of new movie reviews for your reading pleasure over at We Got This Covered, and a handy set of links to help you find them:

First, there’s Seth MacFarlane’s “Ted, an irreverent comedy about a thirty-year-old slacker and his teddy-bear best friend. I didn’t love the film, but as I write in the review, “I did enjoy ‘Ted.’ I did not enjoy it greatly, nor do I ever desire to see it again, but it made me laugh, I enjoyed the performances, and the special effects used to bring the title character to life are truly awe-inspiring. It is not a bad film, but it squanders an awful lot of potential, and though I won’t dissuade you from checking it out, I can’t recommend it too enthusiastically either.” Read the full review at We Got This Covered.

Next is Steven Soderbergh’s “Magic Mike,” a comedy about male strippers starring Channing Tatum. It’s probably the weekend’s best wide release, a very fun, ocassionaly insightful work that sees the always-interesting Soderbergh at his most energized. “If you’re a woman looking to flex the “female gaze,” go with a group of friends and have a good time. I doubt it will disappoint. Fans of Soderbergh, be they women or men, should absolutely do the same. ‘Magic Mike’ is far from perfect, but that’s what I love about it. The film is a fun and fascinating work I wholeheartedly recommend.” Read the full review at We Got This Covered.

People Like Us comes from Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, the writers behind “Transformers” and “Star Trek,” and it’s a respectable attempt at shifting into dramatic territory. Sadly, it’s not a very good one. That being said, it did provide one of the better openings I’ve written in a while: “Someday, Hollywood writers will realize that drama and frustrating plot contrivances are not the same thing, and my job shall become substantially more pleasurable. Someday, good actors will not be wasted on deplorable characters, and I will be a happier person for it. Someday, an American film company will produce a film with a father figure who hasn’t ruined the lives of all his children, and for once I won’t feel sad thinking about how many people in the industry must have had horrible childhoods. Someday, preteens shall be depicted as actual children rather than neurotic amalgamations of every annoying or off-putting quality a human being could possess, and I won’t want to shove a fork in my eye every time a child walks on screen. Alas, these are dreams of better days, and ‘People Like Us’ is proof they have not arrived.” Read the full review at We Got This Covered.

Lynn Shelton’s quiet character piece “Your Sister’s Sister” expands this week, and if it’s playing in one of your cities – including Denver – it’s definitely my recommendation for the weekend. Featuring tremendous performances by Mark Duplass, Emily Blunt, and Rosemarie DeWitt, along with a strong script from Shelton, the film gives the viewer plenty to ponder, and lots to enjoy. “I cannot say I have a great amount of passion for the film, but when one watches as many movies as I do, those that bear a strong voice and meaningful authenticity always stand out. ‘Your Sister’s Sister’ is one of those films, and I admire it greatly.” Read the full review at We Got This Covered.

Finally, I have an early review of next week’s big blockbuster, Marc Webb’s “The Amazing Spider-Man.” Though the film has been met with cynicism since its announcement, the finished product absolutely lives up to its title. “Sam Raimi’s films – the first two, at least – were tremendous interpretations of the Spidey mythos, but they hardly hold definitive claim to that territory. Raimi gave us one take on the character, and now Marc Webb arrives to give his own, just as countless authors and artists have reimagined Spider-Man in the world of comic books. The highest praise I can lend "The Amazing Spider-Man" is that Webb’s vision is so strong, his take on the character and universe so different from what Raimi imagined ten years ago, that I spent almost no time whatsoever thinking about prior films while watching. "The Amazing Spider-Man" stands on its own, and it stands quite tall indeed.” Read the full review at We Got This Covered.

If that’s not enough for you, don’t worry. There will be plenty more next week. See you there.

Review: "The Amazing Spider-Man" is an insightful, heartfelt reboot

Film Rating: A


One of the biggest films of the year, "The Amazing Spider-Man," arrives in theatres next week, on Tuesday, June 3rd. But you can read my official review of the film right now, over at We Got This Covered.


Here's an excerpt to pique your interest: Sam Raimi’s films – the first two, at least – were tremendous interpretations of the Spidey mythos, but they hardly hold definitive claim to that territory. Raimi gave us one take on the character, and now Marc Webb arrives to give his own, just as countless authors and artists have reimagined Spider-Man in the world of comic books. The highest praise I can lend "The Amazing Spider-Man" is that Webb’s vision is so strong, his take on the character and universe so different from what Raimi imagined ten years ago, that I spent almost no time whatsoever thinking about prior films while watching. "The Amazing Spider-Man" stands on its own, and it stands quite tall indeed.


"The Amazing Spider-Man" opens in 2D, 3D, and IMAX 3D theatres on July 3rd. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

WGTC Radio #3 - Spider-Man Retrospective Spectacular! - Brand new Podcast!


The third installment of WGTC Radio, the podcast I host for entertainment website We Got This Covered, has arrived, and it’s a good one.

With The Amazing Spider-Man hitting theatres next week, co-host Sean Chapman and I decided to spend today’s podcast looking back on the original Sam Raimi trilogy starring Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst. The films arguably kick-started the modern superhero craze, and created a template for the comic-book genre that many filmmakers have since followed. What is their significance in movie history, how did they respect and interpret one of pop-culture’s most iconic characters, and how did the franchise develop from promising to brilliant to stagnant in a five-year period? All this and more is discussed in detail – it’s an episode Spider-Man fans won’t want to miss!

Enjoy, and join us next week when we go in-depth with a spoiler­-filled commentary on Ridley Scott’s sci-fi sensation Prometheus. The Amazing Spider-Man itself will be discussed in detail on podcast #5, which will arrive two weeks from now on July 11th.

Also look for my written review of The Amazing Spider-Man on Monday, July 2nd at We Got This Covered, just in time to tell you whether or not you should rush to a midnight screening!

Stream WGTC RADIO – Episode #3:


  


Friday, June 22, 2012

Read This Week's New Movie Reviews - "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter," "Lola Versus," and "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World"


It's time for the weekend, and as such, I have a whole slew of new movie reviews for your reading pleasure over at We Got This Covered, and a handy set of links to help you find them:

First is Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World, "an apocalyptic character study framed through the philosophical lens of absurdism." This is a movie I really and truly love. It features tremendous performances by Steve Carell and Keira Knightley, one of the best scripts of the year, and major emotional moments to spare. As I say in the review: "I love this film, and I do not use the word 'love' lightly. As someone who watches countless movies each year, it is a rare critical emotion I only sense when I truly feel it, and I am ecstatic when I do. 2012 has been a wonderful year for movies, but "Seeking ... " stands at the top as one of my favorite films of the year." Check out the full review at We Got This Covered.

Next is Lola Versus, a quirky indie comedy about a bunch of incredibly, insufferably, unbelievably dumb characters. As I say in the review: "The fragmented title "Lola Versus" practically invites snarky writers like me to complete the phrase with a summation of our criticisms. Indeed, the longer title "Lola Versus the Writing" popped into my head about halfway through the film, because while the main character struggles with love, sex, friendship, herself, and more, her fiercest antagonist is undoubtedly the horrendous script she’s been saddled with. A script that, by the end of the film, made me loath Lola and every single person in her frustrating mess of a life." Check out the full review at We Got This Covered.

Finally, there's Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, a film that quickly squanders its promisingly silly premise with an incredibly dark and serious tone. The problem? "...It simply isn’t possible to take this story seriously, and as a result, the entire movie comes across as awkwardly self-important and, at times, tone-deaf. It’s the film simplest and most obvious mistake, but it’s such an overarching, omnipresent one that it brings down every other aspect of the film." Check out the full review at We Got This Covered.

That's it this week! Check back to www.jonathanlack.com tomorrow for my official review of Pixar's Brave, and kill some time listening to the second episode of WGTC Radio while you're at it! Good times will be had by all! 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Introducing WGTC RADIO, The New Podcast From Jonathan R. Lack and Sean Chapman


As previously announced here, I’ve been made the Associate Editor of entertainment website We Got This Covered, and as I make the transition, several items from Jonathan Lack At The Movies will be moving over to the new website.

One of those is the popular “Monthly Stuff” Podcast I’ve spent the last year-and-a-half hosting with my good friend Sean Chapman. Though the content of the show has not changed – it’s still Sean and I riffing on whatever entertainment topics interest us – it’s now tied directly to We Got This Covered and has, appropriately enough, been renamed WGTC Radio. 

Which means you have to subscribe to another new feed in iTunes. I’m sorry!

There are several benefits to producing the podcast as WGTC Radio. For one, we’ll likely reach more listeners, and more importantly, we may have more resources going forward to make the podcast the absolute best it can be. Most importantly to our long-time listeners, Sean and I have finally decided to switch to a weekly format, at least for the time being. So instead of one podcast a month, you’ll now get four or five. And if I did my math right, that’s better!

For our first episode, we decided to draw new listeners in with a discussion of our Top Ten Favorite Movies of All-Time, but the podcast was so long we had to split it into two episodes! Part 1 is the debut installment, and next Wednesday, we’ll post Part 2 as Episode 2. Simple, right? And we’ve got lots of great content coming your way after that.

So subscribe to WGTC Radio in iTunes – after next week, The “Monthly Stuff” feed will go dark – and please enjoy Sean and mine’s continuing exploits in the world of internet audio!

Listen To WGTC RADIO – Episode #1 Right Here!






Sunday, June 10, 2012

"Mad Men" Season Finale Review: "The Phantom" (Season 5 Episode 13) - “I’m President of the Howdy Doody Circus...”


The fifth season of Mad Men comes to an end with the season finale, episode 13, “The Phantom.”  It’s the last hour of a fantastic season, so for the final time this year, I’m here with my weekly review and analysis.  To do the finale justice, this review contains heavy spoilers, so don’t read unless you’ve seen the episode.

Spoilers for “The Phantom” after the jump…

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Review: "Prometheus" aims high, comes inspiringly close to greatness

Film Rating: B+

At the heart of Ridley Scott’s “Prometheus” lies one of the single most subversive and unsettling questions I have ever seen posed by a major Hollywood release: What if we – the entirety of the human race and all our experiences – are not only one massive cosmic accident, but an unwanted one as well?

That’s bold, incredibly thought-provoking material to build a film around, and as such, “Prometheus” is a work of monumental ambition.  Scott and his team have crafted a rich mythology with limitless possibilities, one born from the question posed above and many, many more.  The film wishes to accomplish so much, in fact, that it’s no surprise the final product is dramatically flawed in several areas.  It’s frustrating, because “Prometheus” comes breathtakingly close to true greatness over and over again; one can sense at every turn seeds of what could very well be one of the all-time great sci-fi efforts. 

Yet at the same time, it’s rather uplifting to see the film come as close as it does.  I would much rather have Scott and company swing for the fences and miss than watch them play it safe, and at the very least, “Prometheus” aspires to be something special.  That, in and of itself, makes it an invigorating piece of can’t-miss cinema, one I’m tempted to embrace wholeheartedly, warts and all. Continue reading after the jump...

Friday, June 8, 2012

Read my "Moonrise Kingdom" Review at 'We Got This Covered'


You may recall that I was recently hired to write for the entertainment website We Got This Covered; at the time, I promised I would notify you when I began reviewing movies predominantly over there rather than here, and it looks like that time has come.

I've just published my first movie review for WGTC, an analysis of Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom," a fantastic new film that stands as the best American release of 2012. I cannot publish the review here, but please head over to WGTC to check out the piece, because I feel it's a very strong bit of writing.


Make sure you check We Got This Covered regularly for all the in-depth content I'm providing, from regular news to editorials to reviews of movies, TV, and more! 

And check back to Jonathan Lack At The Movies this weekend for my exclusive reviews of "Prometheus" and the Mad Men season finale. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

"Mad Men" Review: "Commissions and Fees" (Season 5 Episode 12) - "What happened to your enlightenment?"


The fifth season of Mad Men enters its home stretch with episode 12, “Commissions and Fees.”  It’s the penultimate hour of a fantastic season, and as always, I’m here with my weekly review and analysis.  To do the hour justice, this review contains heavy spoilers, so don’t read unless you’ve seen the episode.

Spoilers for “Commissions and Fees” after the jump…

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Review: "Snow White and the Huntsman" flirts with creative brilliance

Film Rating: B

“Snow White and the Huntsman” is a deeply flawed film I have near limitless respect for.  It is the rare major studio motion picture with vast ambition, brought to life by Rupert Sanders, a first-time director with the talent to execute as much of that vision as possible given the realities of this business.  And the reality is that when a studio like Universal has given a rookie filmmaker $170 million to execute a popular, marketable fairy-tale set-up, artistic license is far from the only master being served.  Unfortunately, it shows.  Sanders and the screenwriters have come up with fascinating, insightful new interpretations of the title characters, the wicked Queen, and the world they inhabit, but the film’s greatest qualities are constantly held back by what feels like a studio-manufactured checklist of plot points and blockbuster pacing. Continue reading after the jump...