Like many animated films about a hero that’s an oxymoron, Turbo tells the story of a snail who dreams of being a racecar driver. But unlike other films of the same ilk – Ratatouille (2007) which is about a rat who dreams of being a chef, for example – Turbo doesn’t quite make the cut. Whereas Pixar always fills their movies with heart, imbuing their animated characters with the pathos of the most inspiring human beings, Dreamworks Animation too often trades story for big name actors and sells their soul for cheap laughs. That’s not to say they don’t make generally entertaining features, occasionally fantastic ones (How to Train Your Dragon), just that more often than not their films provide a few laughs and no more. Sadly, Turbo is one of these. Read More
SPOILER WARNING:The Following Review Contains some Spoilers for the film Pacific Rim.
The year is 2013 and Aliens have opened a wormhole at the bottom of the ocean in order to visit cities along the coast. Oh, and they’re the size of skyscrapers, look like Godzillas extended family, and are in a very foul mood. So, to combat this new threat, the world bands together in a brilliant display of scientific fortitude to create Jaegers: a series of similarly gargantuan battle-bots piloted by humans and designed to kick some serious alien ass. And then the humans are winning (hurrah!), but then the aliens get smarter and they are losing (boo!), and then they start loosing so badly that the world loses faith in Jaegers and decides to shut down the program (sad day!) and build a wall instead (seriously?). But then the Jaeger general says screw it and tries to save the world anyway (woo!) but then – oh, never mind. The introductory plot of Pacific Rim –the backstory which must be stomached before devouring the good bits – is tedious and overly complex. But, brevity and focus of story, nice though they would be, are not why you’re considering plopping down $10-15 for tickets. What you care about are the battles -- the scenes where a robot the size of the Chrystler building goes head to head with a one hundred fifty foot tall sea monster wielding a cargo ship like a claymore. So, how are these battles, you ask? Well, not to put too fine a point on it, they’re fuckingawesome. I won’t spoil too much but sometimes there are Mechs and sometimes they have swords and when they do childlike giddiness ensues. So, if you are searching for a film to satisfy your summer movie-going needs of brainless blockbuster destruction, look no further. Pacific Rim will do that and then some. Read More
“We call them the American Taliban,” says a grim faced Afghani elder to investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill. The man is speaking of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), an arm of the military that lead a night raid on his village killing his daughter in law and her children. The United States had claimed that his village harbored terrorists but, as the Afghani man decries, “if children are terrorists then we are all terrorists.” Such is the bleak world presented in Jeremy Scahill’s documentary Dirty Wars – a world which many would rather avoid seeing. But with the unflinching gaze of Scahill and director Rick Rowley in a mere 87 minutes what was once hidden becomes painfully clear. The film, which is based on Scahill’s book Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield released last April, chronicles Scahill’s attempts to peer beyond the world the US Military wants him to see and into the shifty realm of US counter terrorism operations. Scahill begins in small villages in Afghanistan trying to figure out the source of the constant night raids – NATO reports often blame the Taliban yet his own findings suggest something else – and slowly expands his investigation into the world as a whole traveling to Yemen and southern Africa. Read More
Love or hate it, Zero Dark Thirty is one of the year’s most discussable films. Less than two full years after it happened in May 2011, Director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal have already immortalized the assassination of Osama Bin Laden in film (I mean digital). This incredibly rapid turnover from real life events to movie dramatization provides for a rather bizarre viewing experience that makes it impossible to watch the film simply as a piece of art. One’s enjoyment of the movie is constantly interrupted by a nagging voice going: Is that what really happened? Is that what she was really like? The she, in this case, is Maya (Jessica Chastain), the film’s representation of the CIA Officer known only as “Jen” who played a key role in the decade long manhunt for Bin Laden. Chastain plays Jen as a fiery, cocky heroine who’s as smart as she is brash. She’s entertaining to watch but sometimes feels a little bit too Hollywood. For example, did the real life “Jen,” in answer to the CIA director’s question “Who are you?” reply: “I’m the mother fucker that found the guy”? It’s a funny line for something meant as entertainment, but Zero Dark Thirty isn’t just that. Given our nation’s closeness with the subject matter it can’t be. Read More