Lawless: Your Burning Questions Answered

by Ethan Alter August 29, 2012 10:46 am
<i>Lawless</i>: Your Burning Questions Answered

At the tail end of last summer, The Weinstein Company made a bet that adult audiences weary of sequels, comic-book movies and other blockbuster fare would turn out for a straight-up, grown-up thriller distinguished by a cast of respected character actors and a historical hook. That movie was The Debt -- which told the story of a group of retired Israeli Mossad agents who flash back to an operation from the '60s that changed all of their lives -- and it wound up doing solid business, solid enough that the Weinsteins are pulling the same late-summer counterprogramming stunt today with Lawless, a Prohibition-era crime thriller about a trio of bootlegging brothers in Virginia who refuse to bend to the new law of the land or the crooked businessmen who want in on their operation. Directed by critical darling John Hillcoat (best known for the Down Under Western The Proposition) and featuring a heavy-hitting ensemble that includes Tom Hardy, Jessica Chastain (who also appeared in The Debt), Guy Pearce, Gary Oldman and... um, Shia LaBeouf, Lawless certainly has the pedigree to be this summer's token prestige picture, but is the whole as great as the sum of its parts? I'll answer that -- and more of your burning questions -- below.

I Want My DVD: Tuesday, May 22, 2012

by Ethan Alter May 22, 2012 6:00 am
I Want My DVD: Tuesday, May 22, 2012

McG declares war on audiences looking for a good action comedy in This Means War.

This Means War: Your Burning Questions Answered

by Ethan Alter February 14, 2012 6:05 am
<i>This Means War</i>: Your Burning Questions Answered

If you're like us, the trailer for the new action-laced romantic comedy This Means War left you with a ton of questions. Sure, "Why was this movie made?" is the most obvious one, but the premise -- two CIA agents (Tom Hardy and Chris Pine) fall in love with the same woman (Reese Witherspoon) -- confused us for other reasons as well. Now that we've seen the McG-directed film -- which will have Valentine's Day showings tonight before opening in general release on Friday -- we can address some of the burning questions it raises. Questions like...

The Dark Knight Rises: Come On Up For the Rising

by Ethan Alter July 20, 2012 12:01 am
<i>The Dark Knight Rises</i>: Come On Up For the Rising

At the end of Christopher Nolan's first Batman adventure, Batman Begins, Gotham cop (and future commissioner) James Gordon warned his new masked vigilante pal about the potential for "escalation" amongst the city's criminal element in the wake of the costumed crime-fighter's arrival. In the moment, that scene existed to set the stage for the arrival of more challenging villains like the Joker, whose flair for anarchy would baffle and befuddle Batman through the course of The Dark Knight. But in hindsight, that scene was really Nolan's warning to us the audience that he was planning on escalating the franchise, not to mention the entire comic book movie genre, far beyond its expected conventions.

The Dark Knight was the initial shot across the bow and now here comes Nolan's third and supposed final chapter, The Dark Knight Rises, which pushes the director's specific vision to its breaking point. With its super-sized three-hour runtime, expansive storytelling and enormous action set-pieces (many of which were filmed in the IMAX format, which is the ideal way to see the movie), Rises is the fulfillment of that seven-year old pledge from Nolan to moviegoers. When the title card finally appears onscreen at the end of the movie, it's his equivalent of dropping the mic and walking offstage. (WARNING: Spoilers Will Rise Beyond This Point)

Trailers Without Pity: The Dark Knight Rises

by Ethan Alter July 9, 2012 10:45 am
Trailers Without Pity: <i>The Dark Knight Rises</i>

The 2012 summer movie season has had its fair share of hits so far (The Avengers, Ted, The Amazing Spider-Man) but one film has loomed large over the multiplex landscape ever since the spring breeze gave way to summer heat: The Dark Knight Rises. The premiere of the third and final chapter in Christopher Nolan's genre redefining Batman series is now just two weeks away and Hollywood is clearing the way for his arrival: between now and the film's July 20th release date, the only major movie opening in wide release is the fourth Ice Age adventure. Yup, even the other studios are dying to see what Nolan has come up with.

Warrior: Gonna Fly Now

by Ethan Alter September 9, 2011 6:00 am
<i>Warrior</i>: Gonna Fly Now

It's no accident that the best sports movies are also underdog stories. While rooting for dominant winners -- whether it's the Yanks, the Pats or Pacquiao -- is an accepted and even encouraged practice in the real wide, wide world of sports, there's just more drama in cheering on the Rudy's, Rocky's and Bad News Bears' of the big screen. Warrior, the new mixed martial arts film from Gavin O'Connor (who knows a thing or two about rousing underdog tales, having previously directed 2004's Miracle, based on the epic American/Soviet hockey match at the 1980 Olympics) doubles our pleasure of rooting for the little guy by giving us not just one, but two underdogs, both of whom are facing off against each other in the final round of a high-profile MMA tournament hoping to bring home a million-dollar payday. In one corner, you've got Brendan (Joel Edgerton), a former UFC fighter-turned-high school physics teacher that has climbed back into the ring in order to make the necessary extra cash (he's got a sick daughter, see) his public school gig isn't bringing in. And in the other corner, there's Tommy (Tom Hardy), a Marine recently back from the front who intends to turn his winnings over to the widow and children of his dead army buddy. But wait, here's the best part: these guys also happen to be brothers. How can you resist a set-up like that?



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