RECAP: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Batman v Superman (2016): Zack Snyder

America’s, and perhaps the world’s, most famous superheroes have never been in a feature film together. They’ve fought their own fights, battled demons internal and external. But these two guys realized that the time came to unite against their greatest foe yet: Marvel. Oops. Doomsday and Lex Luthor. That’s it.

Did they succeed? Yeesh. They beat Doomsday, but did they overcome their actual greatest foe: sequel promotion? DC Comics, seeing what Marvel had done with second-tier characters, thought, wisely, “We can do that.” They tasked Zach Snyder to helm the project, to be the Joss Whedon of the Warner Brothers/DC partnership.

And for every bit whimsy and fun Whedon brought to The Avengers movies, Snyder stuffed (and probably will stuff) his movies with grim specter. The enterprise really makes you think of that line from Macbeth about a tale told by an idiot.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: BATMAN FIGHTS SUPERMAN; SUPERMAN VERSUS BATMAN; YAAAAAHHH! Continue Reading

RECAP: Mission: Impossible 3

Mission: Impossible 3 (2006): J.J. Abrams

After an underwhelming sequel from John Woo, world-class cinematic entertainer J.J. Abrams got the reins of the Impossible Franchise.

It’s hard to believe, ten years on, that hiring Abrams was a bit of a risky proposition. He had never tried a straight action movie before, but he was certainly a god on the small screen.

Felicity, Alias, and Lost were about as big as TV hits got in the 21st century. Still, Abrams directing was not the lead story. Instead, it was, as usual, that Tom Cruise was in the movie.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: Superspy Ethan Hunt wants to quit the spy game, but a kidnapped former student draws him back to the field.  Continue Reading

RECAP: Clear and Present Danger

Clear and Present Danger (1994): Phillip Noyce

Harrison Ford became the only person to play Jack Ryan twice, when he took another turn capably bumbling through a mission for the CIA.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: Colombian drug lords pose a clear and present danger to the United States, and the president decides to fight against them, in secret.  Continue Reading

RECAP: Everly

Everly (2014): Joe Lynch

Do you like Selma Hayek? Do you like samurai swords? Did you like Room? If you answered “yes” to all three, have a seat, open up that bag of freshly popped popcorn, and eat it fast while you watch this movie because it’s less than 90 minutes.

It’s so short because it has to be. The camera doesn’t leave the protagonist Everly’s hotel room until after the climax. Sometimes Everly leaves it, but not for long and not far.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: A sex slave named Everly kills a lot of folks from the cozy confines of her hotel room/prison. Continue Reading

RECAP: Man of Steel

Man of Steel (2013): Zack Snyder

Comic book whisperer Zack Snyder takes the reigns of another beloved comic book for Superman’s biggest everything yet!

The previous Superman adventure, 2006’s Superman Returns, was a failure. If you can name the star, well, you probably paid more attention than the general audience.

While $200 million might, at the time, have seemed like a good chunk of change, after that movie came three Iron Men flicks, The Dark Knight, and The Avengers. So Warner Brothers knew it had to try again.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: Krypton might be dead, but its conflicts endure on Earth, between Superman, General Zod, and helpless humans.  Continue Reading

RECAP: The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015): Guy Ritchie

Guy Ritchie’s interpretation of the 1960s TV spy classic was the first of two 2015 films to depict Berlin’s famous Checkpoint Charlie, suspect Number One to be flashpoint of World War III.

You can learn all you need to know about the style of these two movies (Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies was the other) from how they film this checkpoint.

In The Man from U.N.C.L.E. a dapper man confidently walks to the checkpoint in the summer in bright daylight. In Bridge of Spies a car slowly creeps to the checkpoint at night in a snowstorm. Ritchie tells us to get ready for some fun, and style, and that’s what we get.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: Mr. Solo, a suave womanizer (no, a different Mr. Solo), teams up with a KGB agent and a car mechanic to track a black market atom bomb.  Continue Reading

RECAP: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014): Kenneth Branagh

Kenneth Branagh descended from atop his mountain of Shakespearean prestige and Marvel money to direct and appear in this tight, Clancy-inspired thriller. He does a bang-up job.

This movie came out in January, a major setback for its box office chances and the future of the character, a shame, because Branagh’s movie is every bit as good as those Bourne movies, and devoid of nauseating handheld cameras.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: CIA operative Jack Ryan clashes with Russian terrorists, all while keeping his girlfriend from dumping him. Continue Reading

300: Rise of an Empire

300: Rise of an Empire (2014): Noam Murro

Perhaps the world’s second-most-famous Noam made the second film in the 300 series his second feature directed. He took the reins from Zach Snyder, who moved on to bigger and bigger comic adaptations, and touched on a less famous and arguably harder to film sequel.

The key to understanding the film is its chronology. Rise takes place before, during, and after the events of 300, making it the only film I can think of to run parallel to its predecessor.

Science-fiction author Orson Scott Card penned the famous novel Ender’s Game. He later returned to that world and wrote a series about one of Ender’s compatriots, calling the novel Ender’s ShadowRise of an Empire is 300‘s Shadow.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: If you wanted to know what the seconds in command were doing while Leonidas and Xerxes were fighting at Thermopylae, here’s your chance. Continue Reading

Olympus Has Fallen

Olympus Has Fallen (2013): Antoine Fuqua

2013 saw the release of two movies in which the White House falls under siege. This is…one of them.

Aaron Eckhart plays a gravelly voiced tough guy in a compromised position in several of his movies. This is…one of them.

Antoine Fuqua, who directed only four movies from 2005-2012, put out as many movies since. This is…one of them.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: The White House is under enemy hands, and (say it ominously) there’s only one man for the job.  Continue Reading

Clash of the Titans

Clash of the Titans (2010): Louis Leterrier

World-class effects spawned the career of Harry Hamlin and capped Ray Harryhausen’s, effects master–oh, wait, this is not that movie. This the is the remake. The one from 2010. You remember it. released in 3D, it made a modest splash at the box office, enough to garner a sequel.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: Release the Kraken! Continue Reading