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Flight Review


OK

With another deeply committed performance, Washington brings badly needed complexity to what is otherwise a contrived, overstated drama about addiction. It helps that the film is directed by Zemeckis as a kind of companion piece to his last live-action movie, 2000's Cast Away, another film about a man whose life is dramatically changed by a plane crash. Although here he's lost in a wilderness of substance abuse.

Washington plays Whip, a veteran commercial pilot who fills his days with women, alcohol and drugs. Even when he's flying a plane full of passengers. On a routine flight from Orlando to Atlanta, a catastrophic malfunction sends his airliner hurtling toward the ground, prompting an outrageously inventive reaction that saves 96 of the 102 lives on board. Then the investigators discover that he had both alcohol and cocaine in his system at the time. His union rep (Greenwood) hires a high-powered lawyer (Cheadle) to represent him, but Whip doesn't even try to straighten up until he meets young junkie Nicole (Reilly), who's serious about cleaning up her life.

The main problem here is that Gatins' script completely misses the point of his own story, never remotely touching on the central theme of a flawed hero who has no real moral compass. So drugs are the villain; it has nothing to do with Whip's personal failings. Instead, the script just uses a variety of contrived characters to confront him with his drug problems until he finally cracks under all this pressure. Fortunately, Washington is excellent as the high-functioning addict, and the supporting cast is solid in providing whatever element Gatins needs at the moment: Cheadle's straight-arrow efficiency, Reilly's hopeful anguish and Greenwood's steadfast friendship, plus scene-stealer Goodman as Whip's hilariously honest dealer-buddy and Leo as a ruthlessly tenacious investigator.

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Flight Film Premiere

Steve Starkey - Flight Film Premiere London England United Kingdom Thursday 17th January 2013

The Los Angeles premiere of 'Flight' held at ArcLight Cinemas Cinerama Dome - Arrivals

Steve Starkey and ArcLight Cinemas Tuesday 23rd October 2012 The Los Angeles premiere of 'Flight' held at ArcLight Cinemas Cinerama Dome - Arrivals

The 50th New York Film Festival - 'Flight' - Closing Gala & World Premiere

Jack Rapke and Steve Starkey - Jack Rapke and Steve Starkey Sunday 14th October 2012 The 50th New York Film Festival - 'Flight' - Closing Gala & World Premiere

Mars Needs Moms Review


Weak
Like Zemeckis' A Christmas Carol, this animated adventure features an uneven mix of not-quite-right realism and fantastical imagery. It's enjoyable enough, but a live-action movie with a better script would have been much more engaging.

Surly 9-year-old Milo (performed by Green with Seth Dursky's voice) is annoyed by the way his mother (Cusack) runs an efficient house. But this is precisely what the Martian Supervisor (Sterling) needs to help her raise her regimented planet's female population (the useless males are sent to an underground rubbish tip). After Milo accidentally hitches a ride to Mars, he's found by a human, Gribble (Fogler), who's hiding underground. And they meet a friendly Martian (Harnois) who wants to help them find and rescue Mom.

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A Christmas Carol Review


Excellent
The quintessential Christmas classic gets yet another movie incarnation with this visually impressive version from effects wizard Zemeckis. For most of us, all the surprises here are visual, and it's well worth seeing in 3D.

For seven years after his business partner Marley dies, Ebenezer Scrooge (Carrey) ruthlessly pinches his pennies, underpaying his assistant Bob Cratchit (Oldman) and neglecting the family of his nephew Fred (Firth). Then on Christmas Eve, Marley's ghost informs Scrooge that he will be visited by three ghosts, and that night Scrooge takes a terrifying odyssey through his past, present and future, realising that he has completely missed the point of his life. And of Christmas.

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Beowulf Review


Weak
From the advent of sound with 1927's The Jazz Singer to the computer-generated effects breakthrough of 1989's The Abyss -- advancements in technology have had a major impact on cinematic storytelling, for better and worse. New technologies open up more cinematic experiences and new avenues for directors and actors to explore their craft. But it's easy to get caught up in the razzmatazz of the latest spectacle, instead of focusing on age-old, tried and true thematic substance. And that's exactly Beowulf's tragic flaw.

The Beowulf legend originates from a 700 A.D. oral tradition that was adapted in epic poem form by the English and into film form by director Robert Zemeckis -- using motion-captured live-action performances that are turned into a computer-generated light show. Much like the IMAX 3D screenings of Zemeckis' previous effort, The Polar Express, Beowulf's tale of a hero who comes to rid a Scandinavian village of its monster, while screaming his name every chance he gets, is more a showcase for RealD technology than an engaging film.

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The Polar Express Review


Grim
The first 10 minutes and the last 10 minutes of Robert Zemeckis' digital banquet The Polar Express draw inspiration from Chris Van Allsburg's wonderful Christmas novel of the same name. Beginning with the late-night arrival of the pinch-me-I'm-dreaming locomotive and ending with the narrator's ringing of a symbolic bell, these whimsical bookend scenes find the perfect holiday ambiance that wraps us in a cozy blanket of adolescent wonder.

Bridging the film's beautiful opening and closing, though, are 77 minutes of exhaustive, roller coaster-worthy action sequences, death-defying skids across frozen lakes and approximately 15 harrowing occasions where the beloved Polar Express is inches away from jumping its tracks and killing everybody on board. It's Van Allsburg by way of Arnold Schwarzenegger, and it just doesn't fit the initial warm-and-fuzzy mood.

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Monster House Review


Excellent

Every perfect and picturesque neighborhood - at least in the movies - has one: that creepy old house that fuels the nightmares and serves as the centerpiece of the double-dog dares for the local kids.

DJ (Mitchel Musso) has made the house his mission. He's set his bedroom up as home base to watch old Mr. Nebbercracker across the street, an irate curmudgeon (voiced by Steve Buscemi) who steals any balls or bikes that find their way into his yard, chases after kids to keep off his lawn, and, presumably, thinks the music kids listen to today is nothing but noise. Within an hour of DJ's parents leaving for the weekend, Nebbercracker is dead (from a heart attack during an apoplectic moment at finding DJ on his lawn) and DJ is finding out that the old coot might not have been the most dangerous part of the creepy old house, because the house itself is starting to... eat people.

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Last Holiday Review


OK
Queen Latifah and LL Cool J often do great work in bad movies - she elevates unnecessary Barbershop spin-offs; he convincingly flexes his acting muscles in action-centered junk like S.W.A.T. and Mindhunters.

Wayne Wang's Last Holiday might be the first film to allow both bright spots to shine in support of a good feature. Essentially a remake of a 1950s Alec Guinness comedy, Holiday casts Latifah as Georgia Bird, a kind-hearted department store sales clerk who is too shy to ask out her dream man, Sean (Cool J), and too timid to pursue her dream career as a chef. After receiving a brutal bump on the head at work, Georgia is diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer and told she has three weeks to live. This shocking truth jolts the homebody out of her mundane existence. She drains her bank account, books a flight to Prague, and proceeds to splurge on life's finer points before her time runs out.

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Matchstick Men Review


Excellent
Matchstick Men is an uncharacteristic departure for director Ridley Scott. After all, who didn't think the man was utterly without a sense of humor or even a soul of after the hopelessly depressing Gladiator and Black Hawk Down?

But even Scott proves that he can't suppress his frosted side forever, thanks to this spirited and undeniably sweet look at the con game spliced with a family drama -- his best work in years.

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Forrest Gump Review


Excellent
Run, Forrest, run! It sure seemed great at the time, but Gump is aging, and it's starting to show a wrinkle or too. Recently I sat down to watch the double-disc DVD release, and I still found it fresh and smile-provoking, but boy if it isn't a sickly sweet experience.

But what a crazy chain of events Forrest Gump has spawned: a poorly-received book sequel, a restaurant chain, and hordes of imitators -- not to mention a critical backlash.

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Contact Review


Good
Apparently, we are not alone. And we're beaming The Spice Girls into space.

But seriously, Carl Sagan's ode to the superior intelligence of aliens (and how us darned humans mess everything up) is consistently beautiful and interesting, but it never makes a point (except for that bit about the darned humans). The plot, which gives Jodie Foster schematics from space and focuses on the technical and bureaucratic minutiae that go into the construction of an extradimensional travelling device, is rather on the nose -- and the only real surprises in the film come from its obsession with God (in which the late Sagan did not believe) and the complete and utter disappointment received with the aliens are finally revealed.

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Cast Away Review


Excellent
Only a year ago, Cast Away would have been subject to unavoidable and endless Gilligan's Island comparisons. Now, it will never hear the end of Survivor analogies, and that's too bad, because the film really has no resemblance to either TV show.

Cast Away is The Big Tom Hanks Movie of 2000, the latest in a long line of Big Tom Hanks Movies that stretches back to include The Green Mile, Saving Private Ryan, Apollo 13, Forrest Gump, and Philadelphia. However, Cast Away has the distinction of being the only Tom Hanks Movie to star no one but Tom Hanks.

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Steve Starkey

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