Earlier this week I wrote about the whole of DreamWorks Animation, which came after I — no joke — revisited all 28 features released by the studio so far and attended a screening of the studio's latest, "How to Train Your Dragon 2" (hitting theaters next week). That hotly anticipated sequel, which bowed at the Cannes Film Festival last month, comfortably took the top spot, with the 2010 original firmly at #2. Because these, to me, are the crowning achievements of DreamWorks so far.
I don't know why I expected Doug Liman's "Edge of Tomorrow" to be a misfire -- maybe the change of title (it was originally, more intriguingly, named "All You Need is Kill") suggested a lack of studio confidence, maybe the marketing materials looked a bit drab, or maybe the memory of Liman's last big-budget actioner (the terrible "Jumper") cast a dark shadow over the project. Whatever the case, this nifty time-loop sci-fi adventure appears to have exceeded critical expectations.
"The Fault in Our Stars" arrives in theaters tomorrow having already transformed itself from summer sleeper to expected blockbuster. The reviews have been very positive with a number of critics even admitting they were bawling at the end. That being said, when it really comes down to it, most reviewers will admit Josh Boone's direction leaves a lot to be desired. Still, the movie works. Why? The reasons are two fold.
A little over a year after the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, a number of films that were major talking points at the time have faded from my memory -- not everything flourishes outsides the festival bubble. One sneaky title to which my thoughts keep circling back, however, is Alex van Warmerdam's "Borgman" -- a film that won no awards from the jury, but provided the Competition with a bracing shot of alluring, cult-beckoning eccentricity.
'Twilight' director Bill Condon will translate Disney's 'Beauty and the Beast' to live action (UPDATED)
UPDATE: A couple of new details here. You might be wondering, since the original report doesn't mention any story details, how exactly this thing is going to play out. Sources tell HitFix that Condon won't only be drawing from the 1991 Disney film. In his pitch to the studio, the director said he would also include most, if not all, of the Menken/Rice songs from the Broadway musical that ran for 13 years from 1994 to 2007. It will be a "straight-forward, live action, large-budget movie musical," we're told.
See below for the earlier story.
DreamWorks Animation is celebrating a big year in 2014. While the studio's first theatrical release would not come until 1998, it was October 12, 1994 that saw the birth of Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg's vision of a new movie studio, including, of course, Katzenberg's animation division. That makes it 20 years of DreamWorks, and with the release of "How to Train Your Dragon 2" next week (on the heels of a Cannes debut last month), the studio is toasting two decades with one of the most elite installments of its entire portfolio.
Hey, remember "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom?" Six months after its US theatrical release, no one would blame you if it's already slipped to the back of your mind. Despite its prestigious trappings and its unplanned topicality in the wake of Nelson Mandela's death last December, Justin Chadwick's well-intentioned biopic of South Africa's first democratically elected president was among the most prominent of 2013's awards-season hopefuls never to take flight.
I haven't seen Disney's "Maleficent" yet so I have no opinion. To go by critics — 50% at Rotten Tomatoes in both the larger compendium and in the "cream of the crop" as well, plus a 56 Metacritic score — it's a divisive affair. In some corners there are even those preferring it to be graded on a curve because it features a female in the lead, while others have bored down to how the story it tells about that female gets at the heart of what's problematic about it being a children's film. Again, I have no take on it, but it's interesting to see the opinions fly from the sidelines.
Seth MacFarlane has always been a divisive comic talent: he makes no attempt to hide his obnoxiousness, much less apologize for it, and that bald, brash style either gets up viewers' noses or into their funnybones. (Or, in some cases, both simultaneously.) I've run, well, lukewarm and cold with him over the years: I was never on "Family Guy's" wavelength, while "Ted," for all its misanthropic shortcomings, made me laugh despite myself.
As a film critic, one is usually moved to immediate expression when a great film comes down the pike -- its ideas spur one's own, the words tumble forth in not-always-orderly fashion, the urge to share an experience sometimes outpacing the ability to parse it. Yet sometimes baldly extraordinary films thwart our initial attempts to write about them, and such has been the case with me and Andrei Zvyagintsev's "Leviathan" -- a classically robust, not inordinately complicated melodrama that nonetheless seems to be about something different every time I sit down to tackle it.