After The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal reteam to tell a true story from half a century ago, finding unnerving present-day resonance in the details. Using exhaustive research, they recount the events surrounding the Detroit riots for the first time, with characters who feel achingly real. It's so impeccably assembled that it carries a strong punch to the gut.
It kicked off in July 1967 when white police raided a peaceful party, brutally arresting the blacks in attendance. People hit the streets in protest, and the officials cracked down. Caught up in this, aspiring Motown singer Larry (Algee Smith) and his pal Fred (Jacob Latimore) take refuge in the Algiers Motel, where they meet some other men (including Anthony Mackie and Jason Mitchell) and two white girls (Hannah Murray and Kaitlyn Dever). Thinking they heard shots fired, local cop Krauss (Will Poulter) and his partners (Jack Reynor and Ben O'Toole) charge in, lining everyone up and menacing them brutally. Caught in the middle, security guard Melvin (John Boyega) tries to diffuse the situation without further aggravating these viciously bigoted policemen.
The film opens with a lucid prologue tracing the roots of America's racial tensions in the continued segregation between inner-cities and suburbs, creating a police state with whites marginalising blacks. Bigelow's direction and Boal's script then recount events journalistically, throwing the audience right into the situation without character back-stories. This makes everything feel urgent and dangerous, a situation in which absolutely anything can happen. So when it leads to murder, we're deeply horrified.
Continue reading: Detroit Review
At the end of the American Civil War, John Carter (Kitsch) is in Arizona looking for gold when a strange artefact in a cave transports him to Mars, known locally as Barsoom. Getting used to the lower gravity is one thing, but he's soon captured by green, 15-foot-tall Tharks, who have four limbs plus tusks on the sides of their faces. He earns the respect of leader Tars Tarkas (Dafoe), but when he rescues Helium's Princess Dejah (Collins), he ends up in the middle of the war between red human kingdoms Helium and Zodanga.
Continue reading: John Carter Review
What makes Munich even more ambitious than films like List or even Empire of the Sun is that it's not as recognizable a film as those classically-structured epics. This film is part spy thriller and part meditation on violence but not completely either. The result comes out as somewhat scrambled by the end, with the pieces of about a half-dozen lesser movies mixed around inside, but there's rarely a moment when it's not grabbing you by the collar and demanding your undivided attention. We should have more of this kind of thing.
Continue reading: Munich Review
Troy leaves the talking to its triumvirate of Hollywood royalty - Brian Cox, Brendan Gleeson, and Peter O'Toole. The dying is left up to the chiseled and marketable studs - Eric Bana, Orlando Bloom, and Brad Pitt. Whenever a member of the veteran trio interacts with a member of the other on screen, it creates a mismatch of talent not even a Trojan Horse could overcome.
Continue reading: Troy Review
Even the teen hormones that live in all us guys are squashed by this one. Jolie, trying to play our heroine Lady Lara Croft as sexy and supercool, just looks mildly amused by the goings-on. I half expected her to check her watch while on camera, searching for lunch or a better project. [Never underestimate crafty film editing. -Ed.]
Continue reading: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider Review
Already, T3 has a strike against it. Sequels with "Three" in the title tend to reek, from The Godfather: Part III to Jaws 3-D. Strike two comes in the form of high expectations. Twelve years ago, James Cameron raised the bar with Terminator 2: Judgment Day, a superior sequel and a long-standing leader in the high-tech special effects field. The shoes director Jonathan Mostow (U-571) was asked to fill look mighty big.
Continue reading: Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines Review
With his highly anticipated Jurassic Park sequel, Steven Spielberg grubs through the filmmaking archives for every plot device, camera trick, and clichéd scene you can think of, and rolls it into one big mess. Only with dinosaurs. Lots of 'em!
Continue reading: The Lost World: Jurassic Park Review
A loose remake of the 1963 Haunting, this version gives us a creepy haunted house and four hapless people to populate it. Chief among them is Eleanor (Taylor), a real wacko who believes there are children's spirits in the house that speak to her. And she's right! Wow, original! And hey kids, the sexy Zeta-Jones plays a bisexual in the movie! Oooooh, scandalous! (Sarcasm, people.)
Continue reading: The Haunting (1999) Review
And so it is that in the terrorism-edgy mid-'00s, Steven Spielberg has resurrecteds War of the Worlds - again - and created the greatest alien invasion movie ever.
Continue reading: War Of The Worlds (2005) Review
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