Much Ado About Nothing [400+]

Much Ado About Nothing (2013)

“This whole love-drunk affair is damned near impossible to resist.”

GRADE: 4/5 (B+)

by Richard Rey

 

Joss Whedon’s most recent contribution to cinema comes in the form of a different hero – namely the wordy Bard himself. Shot during a twelve day period at his home in Santa Monica, CA, Much Ado About Nothing is a collaborative labor of love born in the midst of the shooting of the blockbuster hit The Avengers. This black-and-white modernized comedy of errors is more a testament to the director’s profound love of cinema than it is groundbreaking Shakespearean work. The bare boned side project offers barrels of laughs, electric performances from its lead and supporting characters and is lighthearted and fun enough to draw the likes of both adults and teenagers in search of a less educational, more entertaining translation of Shakespeare on the silver screen. Indeed, what begins as a daunting task of adjusting the ear to the rhythms of the world’s greatest poet quickly turns into a hilarious game of gags and guffaws where the actors’ (Whedon’s friends from show and film past, think Buffy, Firefly, Angel, and even Avengers) draw-and-sheathe use of the language is done with such precision and technique that it makes the whole love-drunk affair damned near impossible to resist.

For those unfamiliar with the story, Claudio (Fran Kranz) and Benedick (Alexis Denisof) have just returned victorious from battle to Messina where the governor, Leonato (Clark Gregg), welcomes them to stay for a month. Love struck, Claudio seeks the governor’s daughter, Hero (Jillian Morgese), while Benedick swears he will never marry. Meanwhile Beatrice (Amy Acker), Leonato’s niece, finds Benedick to be repulsive and contemptible, noting his incompetence as a soldier. When each realizes the saucy pride of the other, love becomes a game of words, tricks and quips and is bound to take hold of the merry hearts of all drunken parties involved. This winning adaptation of the four-hundred year old play is a cocktail party you won’t want to miss – replete with hilarious clowning and back and forth gags that give the pic a much needed lift in action to match its prolific language.

It may be said that this American take on Sir William Shakespeare is overly jokey, too literal, and will never match the venerable Kenneth Branaugh’s 1993 film adaptation. To this I respond with the sticking out of my tongue, a couple of cartwheels and the downing of two martinis before falling on the floor in a drunken stupor. Lighten up, Shakespeare hasn’t been this funny in years, and may not be for many more to come! Sure, it’ll piss off the Royal Shakespeare Company, but just remember, Daniel Day-Lewis abandoned that group of squawking old roosters for a career in Hollywood. Just saying…

MPAA: Rated PG-13 for some sexuality and brief drug use

Runtime: 107 min

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Director: Joss Whedon

Writer: William Shakespeare, Joss Whedon (screenplay)

Starring: Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Fran Kranz

Theatrical Release: June 21, 2013 (limited)

Distributor: Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions

New LONE RANGER Featurette shows Depp getting bucked off horse

A new featurette for the July 3 release THE LONE RANGER entitled “The Craft” shows actor Johnny Depp (recently turned 50) getting bucked off of a horse in an action sequence among other very dangerous stunts incuding Armie Hammer facing his fear of heights by climbing a cabled-down outpost platform that looks far too rickety for my liking while a helicopter swoops toward him to get the needed shots for Gore Verbinski’s (Pirates of the Carribbeanupcoming retelling of the classic story. Verbinski says it’s the “hardest film he’s ever made”. Take a look!

“Like” The Lone Ranger on Facebook: Facebook.com/theloneranger

“Follow” The Lone Ranger on Twitter: @loneranger

Official website: www.disney.com/theloneranger

 

12 Rounds 2 Reloaded [400+]

12 Rounds 2: Reloaded (2013)

“A small scale action-thriller with an extremely thin story arc.”

GRADE: D+ (2/5 stars)

by Richard Rey

 

12 Rounds 2: Reloaded is the perfect example of why movies like it go straight to video – they’re just not very good; it’s not that they’re terrible, it’s just that the studios realize a trip to the big screen would likely result in a squandering of their resources and time. WWE superstar Randy Orton stars as Nick, an average Joe EMT married to a very underwritten blonde (Cindy Busby). When the couple witnesses a terrible traffic accident, Nick’s skill set as a paramedic is put to the test – can he save all of the victims? A year later, a hidden terrorist (Brian Markinson) calling shots behind a set of monitors threatens to kill Nick’s wife if he can’t complete a series of tasks within a very tight timeframe. (Isn’t it astonishing, and entertainingly so, how large the balls of a cyber-bully can grow so long as he’s in his protected lair – more than likely a cave-like blanket-fort in his mother’s basement?)

Apparently this sequel, if you can even call it that (it merely steals the premise of the original 2009 flop 12 Rounds starring WWE wrestler John Cera), is supposed to be a high-octane flick, but what we really have here is a small scale action-thriller (generous) with an extremely thin story arc. To be completely honest, were it not backed by WWE Studios for its lucrative quality – a marketing scheme surrounded by Randy Orton – the film wouldn’t exist; the direction is dull with few exceptions, most of which feel out of place within the movie (a dizzying sex sequence and an even woozier flashback at a club), the cinematography is not satisfying and the writing is retarded by its constant exposition and cheesy comic-book dialogue that, again, doesn’t fit within the framework of the pic. However, since the studios insist on banking on Orton’s performance, let’s make that our primary focus.

It would be unfair to do what every other critic and viewer will likely do, that is, to pit Orton’s performance against Dwayne Johnson’s most recent turns in Pain & Gain (hilarious), Fast & Furious 6 (nothing special) and G.I. Joe Retaliation. For those interested, you need to go back to 2001 and recall The Rock (Johnson) as The Scorpion King, and then build a foundation from there –but even then you’d be comparing apples to oranges considering the difference in genre. For the sake of time, I’ll take a pass on that, thank you. But what I will say is that Orton’s turn here as a conflicted EMT was satisfying enough to fill the needs of screenwriter David Benullo’s (Around the World in 80 Days) hollow script. As to how well he was directed by Dutch filmmaker Roel Reine, my response is simply: I’m not sure.

What I am sure of is that this movie is bland and cliché, taking us round by round through different tasks that are completed fairly easily – when a character has 3 minutes to figure something out or die, how high could the stakes possibly be when we’re in the sixth? Hollywood, unlike the wrestling ring, normally requires that our hero stay alive without tapping out until action’s end (especially in action flicks), which, in this case, would be the twelfth and final round. Whether or not WWE Studios should continue to make quasi-serious movies involving their most popular muscle-heads is an important question, one that some of the major studios answer with a resounding yes. I prefer seeing a sweat-drenched Stone Cold Steve Austin opening up a can of woop-ass on another juiced-up jabroni caught unawares.

The Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital HD features plenty of extras including features like Randy Orton Reloaded, Locations: From Heller’s Lair to the Sugar Factory, The Action of 12 Rounds 2: Reloaded and audio commentary with Director Roel Reine and film editor Radu Ion.  The look is very crisp and the quality of the picture is squeaky clean. Featuring a 1080p High Def widescreen 1.78:1 aspect ratio, avid fans can’t go wrong with this Twentieth Century Fox pickup.

MPAA: R

Runtime: 94 min

Genre:  Action, Thriller

Director: Roel Reine

Writer: David Benullo

Starring: Randy Orton, Brian Markinson, Cindy Busby

Blu-Ray/DVD Release: June 4, 2013

Distributor: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Man of Steel (400+)

Man of Steel (2013)

“Tracing the origins of a superhero has never been so wearing on the human mind.”

GRADE: D (2/5 stars)

by Richard Rey

When an entire planet is destroyed and all we feel is indifference, that’s a problem. Director Christopher Nolan’s reboot of the DC Batman franchise (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises) was both critically acclaimed and highly successful in the box office largely due to its unwavering commitment to the series’ pitch black tonality, effectively captured in screenwriting, cinematography and performance by an ensemble that included an Oscar for best supporting actor for Heath Ledger. Sadly, that mastery of mood slips through the fingertips of director Zack Snyder (300, The Watchmen) in Man of Steel, the re-launch of the beloved Superman franchise, and in no small way; indeed, the movie suffers from the same self-identity crisis as its protagonist, unable to confirm or deny its place as a tedious Clark Kent biopic or a high budget Hollywood blockbuster. But one thing’s for sure, there’s a whole lot of empty involved in the pic –wallets, emotion, creativity, and fun to name a few.

Kal-El (Henry Cavill) is the first natural birth on Krypton for years and his conception couldn’t come in a timelier fashion considering the alien planet is on the verge of exploding due to the exhaustion of its natural resources and energies brought about by its own citizens. Jor-El (Russell Crowe) and the coup-minded General Zod (Michael Shannon) are at odds regarding the destiny of the Kryptonian people. When the former launches his newborn son Kal-El into space along with the Codex – a skull that harnesses infinite power and energy – the unthinkable is about to unfold: the very first alien will walk and, eventually, fly among us. However, superpowers will clash here on Earth when Zod tracks down the man of steel in search of the Codex that would save the remnants of the Kryptonian race and allow for a new start.

Kevin Costner and Diane Lane play the rural Kansas couple who find and adopt the extraterrestrial orphan Kal-El who they call Clark Kent. Living a life on earth when you have super powers is apparently the most unpleasant thing you can experience, or so we’re told time and again in a speak-your-emotion-don’t-wear-it-on-your-sleeve fashion thanks to the writing of David S. Goyer and Christopher Nolan. What could have been a fun time growing up for the all-American superhero – imagine reports of beer runs at the local 7-11 where a teen enters in through the front door and exits through the roof in highflying fashion or, even more amazing, the ability of a sixteen year old to read the minds of teenage girls, the possibilities are endless – turns into an unconvincing weep fest where the recluse boy Clark is the loneliest of us all. Even the adult Clark, played respectably by Cavill, seems to be more of a confused man-boy than a legitimate protector of Earth. It’s beyond me why Nolan, Snyder and company would strip this franchise reboot of nearly all humor, lightness, wit and fun – perhaps this is why the movie’s runtime felt especially long. This sort of watch is an unpleasant one-time only experience that instills more darkness than hope in its audience. Can’t we humanize the alien while allowing for an occasional smile or half-grin, at least? Not this time around. By films end we walk away with more of a sense of loss than victory, even after we’ve seen the teenage Clark save a school bus of students from drowning. Tracing the origins of a superhero has never been so wearing on the human mind. Yet for all the blackness, it still feels like the filmmakers didn’t really know what they wanted more: an extremely tedious detail-oriented layout of Kal-El/Clark Kent’s upbringing (Act’s one and two) or a blockbuster hit packed with in-your-face, super loud action (Act three). And with Snyder rather than Nolan calling the creative shots, it plays out like a muddled mess.

The few times humor is involved are, not surprisingly, the best ones: Superman taking a crash course in flying and a mouthy trucker who gets what’s coming to him (to name nearly all of them). Had the filmmakers lightened up and given us quality popcorn flick entertainment with more wit and intelligence – a Marvel trademark – it would’ve been a much more positive movie-going experience. Comic book fanatics will likely be pleased-to-tears with this extremely in-depth look into the boy behind the S (which stands for hope, not Superman, in case you were wondering) but wider audiences may find the flick far too heavy for its own good – especially since we’re living in the Avenger-era. Visually, it’s what you’d expect of any big budget Hollywood comic book film of the past decade with the exception that many of the sets and props feel recycled – the Kent’s farm looks like it was ripped right off of M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs.

Simply put, the movie isn’t anything special for its genre and the weighty, hollow mood will keep it from being the type of blockbuster we’ve grown so fond of. It is, however, the much needed springboard for future Superman installments that, with any luck at all, will allow us to breathe and maybe even laugh, if not just once.

 

MPAA: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence, action and destruction, and for some language

Runtime: 143 min

Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy

Director: Zack Snyder

Written by: David S. Goyer, Christopher Nolan (story)

Starring: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon

Theatrical Release Date: June 14, 2013 (wide)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kino Classics Releases SCUM [News-Today]

SCUM poster1

Kino Classics has restored the 1979 Crime Drama Scum. This extremely brutal TV-play was officially banned when it was shown on BBC but was eventually made into a feature film by director Alan Clarke. The yarn involves the rugged life within the bounds of a British Borstal (youth reform school in the U.K.). Be aware that the film unflinchingly portrays rape, suicide and racism, and may not be suitable for all audience members.

Pre-order your copy on DVD/Blu-Ray today!

Official Street Release Date: June 4, 2013

 
Scum 
Director: Alan Clarke
Produced by Davina Belling and Clive Parsons
Screenplay by Roy Minton
Genre: Drama
Blu-ray SRP: $24.95
DVD SRP: $19.95
Street release date: June 4, 2013
Technical Specs:
U.K. / 1979 / Color / 96 min. / Anamorphic (1.66:1)
Rated R

Fast & Furious 6 [HASHED#OUT]

FF6 still 2 - chieftain tank

Fast & Furious 6

#EmptyEmotion #ActionLacking #ComedyTyreseGibsonSungKang

RATING: 3/5 [C]

Follow on Twitter: @fastfurious

Like on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/fastandfurious

Official Website: http://www.thefastandthefurious.com 

Distributor: Universal Pictures

Tweet-able review: https://theactorscritic.wordpress.com/2013/05/25/fast-furious-6-tweet-able/

400+ Full review: https://theactorscritic.wordpress.com/2013/05/25/fast-furious-6-400-review/

Fast & Furious 6 [Tweet-able]

FF6 still 3 - fugitive family

@UniversalPics @Ludacris @FastFurious #Fast6 review: Checkered flag for fans, yellow warning flag for the rest of us. http://bit.ly/137ade2

RATING: 3/5 [C]

RT

Twitter: @tonguecheekflix

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Tonguencheekreviews

ALL#HASHED#OUT review: https://theactorscritic.wordpress.com/2013/05/25/fast-furious-6-hashedout/

400+ Full review: https://theactorscritic.wordpress.com/2013/05/25/fast-furious-6-400-review/