By Shane Sellar
300: Rise of an Empire
If Greece and Persia ever go to war, it’ll make choosing between gyros and shwarmas at lunchtime a political statement.
However, according to this action movie, both ancient empires did do battle before either ethnic pita wrap existed.
Imbued with godly hubris and a willing army of thousands, the Persian King Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) engages in war with Greece.
Defending the Republic from the approaching Persian armada is Grecian General Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton) and his severely outnumbered fleet.
While a small band of boats protect the entrance to Thermopylae, Themistocles leads a flotilla to attack the Persian ships, lead by a whip-wielding commander, Artemisia (Eva Green).
While Eva Green steals the show, this sequel – set shortly after the events of its predecessor – overindulges in the digital blood splatter, inspirational battle speeches and slow-mo skirmishes.
Besides, the only thing you can acquire from invading Greece is high unemployment.
The best thing about love in the winter is that the other person’s body heat delays your dying of hypothermia.
Mind you, it’s not a low body temperature that threatens the lovers in this fantasy: it’s tuberculosis.
Peter (Colin Farrell) is an orphaned immigrant who was raised by a gangster (Russell Crowe) to be a thief.
While raiding a residence, Peter encounters the ailing Beverly (Jessica Brown Findlay), who he falls in love with.
Unfortunately, fate intervenes and Peter ends up an immortal amnesiac ambling the avenues of New York for a century.
It’s not until he meets Virginia (Jennifer Connelly) that he remembers his purpose.
With angels, demons and a flying horse, this adaptation of the novel is too whimsical to be taken seriously. Its ideas are underdeveloped, its romance is anemic and the story is convoluted.
Furthermore, falling in love with a burglar isn’t love…it’s Stockholm syndrome.
The upside to a look-alike is when you’re hung over you can send them to work as you.
After spotting an actor in a movie that resembles himself, a discontented college professor, Adam (Jake Gyllenhaal), embarks on a mission to contact him.
Adam eventually learns that the performer’s name is Anthony St. Claire (Jake Gyllenhaal) and that he has a pregnant wife (Sarah Gadon) and that he also lives in Toronto.
When the pair finally meets face-to-face, Anthony’s enthusiasm for erotica evokes an arrangement to take Adam’s girlfriend (Mélanie Laurent) away for the weekend.
Meanwhile, a gigantic tarantula stalks Adam’s psyche.
A dark rendition of the Prince and Pauper, this Canadian psychological thriller captures perfect polar opposite performances from Gyllenhaal that culminate in cryptic fashion.
Incidentally, women can always tell their man’s been replaced when they start having vaginal orgasms.
The Lego Movie
The worst thing about a Lego movie is that you are eventually going to step on it in your bare feet one day.
Fortunately, this animated adventure comes in a digital format.
Dimwitted construction worker Emmet (Chris Pratt) is bonded with an item that can prevent Lord Business (Will Ferrell) from freezing the folks of Bricksburg in place.
Aiding him is a wizard (Morgan Freeman), a master-builder (Elizabeth Banks), Batman (Will Arnett) and other trademarked characters (Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Alison Brie, Charlie Day, Nick Offerman).
In order to beat Lord Business, Emmet must tap into his underutilized imagination.
Lampooning the very building blocks that inspired it – and the pop culture licenses its parent company holds – The Lego Movie is unlike any other: its uproarious irreverence is equaled only by its narrative’s relevance.
And in the end, Lego all goes to the same place: inside the couch.
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Instead of robes, hotels should offer guests complimentary HAZMAT suits.
Auspiciously, the accommodations at the alpine resort in this comedy are immaculate, because it’s mostly empty.
There are a few souls. Among them a writer (Jude Law) interested in the hotel’s history, and the owner, Zero (F. Murray Abraham), who’s happy to regale him with it over dinner.
In 1932, under the tutelage of the overly committed concierge, Monsieur Gustave (Ralph Fiennes), Zero (Tony Revolori) gains employment at the hotel.
When a deceased dowager (Tilda Swinton) bequeaths Gustave a valuable painting, it sets off a chain of events that lands him in prison.
From the quirky characters, to the pastel aesthetic and the subtle sophistication, this latest offering from director Wes Anderson has his idiosyncratic and affable fingerprints all over it.
Furthermore, the Bible is the only item in a hotel room likely to be covered in biological fluid.
The upside to being a drifter is when the work dries up in one town you can kill your boss and move to another.
Unfortunately, the transients in this drama are killing locals and staying.
Gary (Tye Sheridan), a 15-year-old wanderer with an alcoholic father (Gary Poulter), lands a job for him and his dad poisoning dying trees with Joe (Nicolas Cage), an ex-con with a problem with authority.
While Gary is lauded for his effort and forms a bond with Joe, Gary’s father is fired.
In retaliation, he teams with Joe’s adversary (Ronnie Gene Blevins) to get revenge on both Joe and Gary.
Entrenched in the intensity of small-town grudges, Joe is a down-and-dirty tale that showcases two powerful performances from its established star and its rising co-star.
Incidentally, the best mentors are the ones that can teach you to remove copper wiring from new homes.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
The first thing a new CIA recruit should know is what CIA stands for. Thankfully, the green agent in this action/thriller has his acronyms down.
An injured solider, Jack Ryan (Chris Pine), is recruited by a seasoned CIA operative (Costner) to join the Agency as an undercover analyst. Assigned to Wall Street, Ryan scrutinizes the stock market for terrorist activity.
When he does detect an anomaly, it turns out to be a Russian loyalist (Kenneth Branagh) plotting America’s economic demise.
What’s worse, Ryan’s fiancée (Keira Knightley) becomes suspicious of his activities and gets involved in his mission.
A reboot of Tom Clancy’s seminal spook, Shadow Recruit is a middling entry into the franchise’s anemic catalogue.
While Pine’s version of the astute agent is adequate, Knightley’s American accent and Branagh’s clichéd Commie villain routine undermine the already slow moving narrative.
Incidentally, Wall Street CIA agents have stock tickers on their guns.
The easiest way to tell if there is an air marshal on your flight is to yell out: Bomb! A better way, as the air terrorist in this thriller finds, is to start killing crew members.
An alcoholic air marshal (Liam Neeson) aboard a non-stop flight across the Atlantic receives a text from a passenger stating that he will kill someone every 20 minutes until he gets $150M.
Determined to neutralize the mysterious threat, the marshal starts targeting suspicious passengers and interrogates them.
But when evidence comes to light that the marshal may be the terrorist, passengers (Julianne Moore, Jason Butler Harner) and crew (Michelle Dockery, Lupita Nyong’o) panic.
An intriguing concept with a tragic lead and tons of close-combat sequences, Non-Stop seems poised to please.
Unfortunately, the game’s perpetrator isn’t as earth shattering as hoped and the acting can be flighty.
By the way, more dead passengers means more elbow room.
The best part of working at an adult bookstore is the great customer base you get to pepper-spray nightly.
Surprisingly, the X-rated video renters in this dramedy are quite innocuous.
A college graduate with no prospects in her chosen field of poetry, Amy (Emma Roberts) eventually answers a want ad for a porn store clerk.
Under the tutelage of fellow employee Alex (Evan Peters), Amy learns the ins and outs of the adult entertainment and writes her prose in her spare time.
By chance she encounters her idol, erstwhile poet Rat Billings (John Cusack), who begrudgingly becomes her mentor.
But her drive for recognition quickly alienates her new family.
Not as prolific as it wants to be, Adult World does benefit from Cusack’s involvement but he is not enough to carry the clichéd laden coming-of-age script.
Furthermore, any poet worth a damn isn’t into pornography, they’re into pills and booze.
He Overpays Attention. He’s the…