Christoph Waltz

Film Review: Downsizing

by Chris Piper on December 22, 2017

Having your tiny cake and eating it, too

Matt Damon (l.) plays Paul Safranek and Jason Sudeikis plays Dave Johnson in Downsizing from Paramount Pictures.

“Going small” is not a goal often associated with the dreams of mainstream America, but what if going small meant maintaining a lavish, upper middle-class, suburban lifestyle with all the trimmings? This deceptively simple idea underlies Downsizing, Alexander Payne’s newest film, starring Matt Damon, Hong Chau, and Christoph Waltz. The film presents enough imagination and asks enough questions to launch a series, but it never figures out what it’s trying to say.

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Tarzan comes out swinging, but just barely misses.

He Tarzan.

He Tarzan.

Tarzan of the Apes, written by Edgar Rice Burroughs, first appeared in the pulp magazine All-Story Magazine in 1912. Since then, Tarzan has been the title character of numerous novels, TV series, film adaptations, and more. It’s an old and valuable property, hence the ® symbol noticeably visible on the opening title credit. Now there’s a new Tarzan feature film, not surprisingly called The Legend of Tarzan since at this juncture there’s enough in the Tarzan mythos to argue a “legend” has been well-established. Unfortunately, the new film can’t avoid the blatant traditional racial tropes that were overwhelmingly present in Burroughs’ creation — after all, Tarzan, the hero who frees slaves and shifts the political and cultural course of central Africa towards the greater good, is a white man. Racial issues aside, there are still some emotional and visual pitfalls that the exciting action and stunning vistas can’t make up for. What does work about The Legend of Tarzan, in addition to a better-than-expected script, is a testament to the solid direction of David Yates (who directed the final four Harry Potter films).

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Film Review: Spectre

by Chad Liffmann on November 6, 2015

Bland, James Bland

Bond, like us, is waiting for some excitement.

Bond, like us, is waiting for some excitement.

I’m a Quantum of Solace defender. I think that film, which was Daniel Craig’s second as James Bond, gets better after repeat viewings and was highly underrated when it came out, and still is today. And so maybe you can take extra caution that even I, a Quantum of Solace supporter, think that Spectre falls short of the previous 3 Bond films. Don’t worry, it’s still better than Die Another Day. Spectre relies heavily on plot points from the previous three films, trying to tie all loose-ends together that didn’t need any tying. The movie also feels like a 150 min homage to classic Bond tropes—and it gets tiring when there’s no real purpose except to wink at the audience. It’s a pity so much talent and hype got mismanaged. It may be a pretty film, and distractingly thrilling during its handful of ridiculous action sequences, but its otherwise aimless, oddly unfulfilling if not dull, and ultimately less rewarding than superior actioners like Mi5: Rogue Nation, The Dark Knight and even Skyfall (all from which Spectre seems to be borrowing…or copying).

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A solid second ride thanks to great chemistry

Buddies Nick, Kurt, and Dale show off their new shower buddy.

Buddies Nick, Kurt, and Dale show off their new shower buddy.

From the co-writers of Dumb and Dumber To, the disappointing comedy sequel, comes Horrible Bosses 2, the slightly-less disappointing and still quite funny comedy sequel.  Yes, we know that comedy sequels rarely work since the humor isn’t as fresh and the jokes are often forced.  Horrible Bosses 2 is definitely not as funny as the original 2011 hit which took the dark fantasies of all white collar workers and spun them into a hilarious story of three down-and-out losers trying to kill their horrible bosses.  But, HB2 still has plenty of great moments, primarily due to the chemistry between the three leads, and will likely entertain any fan of the first film (like myself) and coerce a few belly laughs from newcomers.  But there’s no denying that considering the incredible cast of the new film, the film could’ve reached even greater comedic heights.

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Film Review: Epic

by Chad Liffmann on May 24, 2013

Colin Farrell voices Ronin in Epic

Colin Farrell voices Ronin in Epic

Naming a film Epic is asking for a lot, especially when it’s based on a children’s book of a different and less demanding title, “The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs” by William Joyce.  Mirriam-Webster defines ‘epic’ as “extending beyond the usual or ordinary especially in size or scope.”  To focus Epic on inherently small things, like insects and miniature people in a world of forest trees and underground hives, is a problem in of itself.  Sure, things may look “epic” from the characters’ point of view, but from the perspective of a human being in the audience, not so much.  Luckily the visuals do look epic, they just don’t feel that way.  This is due in part because of the relatively banal storyline and uninspired character design for the protagonists.  It’s still a very playful film with just enough depth to satisfy adults, but as it tries to balance emotion and a tone oriented toward small children, it falls short.

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Film Review: Django Unchained

by Jason LeRoy on December 25, 2012

django-unchained-2

starring: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson

written and directed by: Quentin Tarantino

MPAA: Rated R for strong graphic violence throughout, a vicious fight, language and some nudity

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Film Review: “Water For Elephants”

April 22, 2011

starring: Robert Pattinson, Reese Witherspoon, Christoph Waltz, Paul Schneider, Hal Holbrook written by: Richard LaGravenese (screenplay), Sara Gruen (novel) directed by: Francis Lawrence MPAA: Rated PG-13 for moments of intense violence and sexual content.

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