By Shane Sellar
If humans used more than 10 per cent of their brain, network sitcoms would be endangered.
In fact, the brainiac in this action movie doesn’t watch TV at all.
Coerced by her boyfriend to deliver a briefcase to a kingpin (Choi Min-sik), Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) becomes an unwilling participant in the Taiwanese drug-trade.
Forced to mule a drug capable of boosting brain function back to the States, a scuffle damages the product, entering Lucy’s bloodstream.
In lieu of overdosing, she gains access to the other 90 per cent of her brain, resulting in extraordinary mental and physical abilities.
She now hopes to unravel the mysteries of life, and get revenge.
While the concepts and car chases presented by writer/director Luc Besson are provocative, his attempt at a cerebral actioner is asinine and unbelievable at times.
Besides, even if a woman could use 100 per cent of her brain around a cute guy she’d still only use seven per cent.
The real reason why demons like to take possession of toy dolls is because they secretly want to wet themselves.
Mind you, the one in this horror movie also wants the soul of a newborn.
Shortly after receiving an antique doll from her husband (Ward Horton), expectant mother Mia (Annabelle Wallis) begins experiencing strange phenomena around the nursery.
The events increase with the birth of their daughter, so much so, that the entity inside the toy tries to convince Mia to sacrifice her firstborn’s soul to it.
There to help Mia is a contrite clairvoyant (Alfre Woodard).
The prequel to The Conjuring, Annabelle is based on the real-life devil doll exercised by famed ghost hunters The Warrens. However, that’s where the similarities end.
A blatant metaphor for postpartum depression, Annabelle’s anchor-less script never finds its focus, or its frights.
Incidentally, demons would have more luck possessing the souls of orphans.
Only infants and the homeless can find value in discarded cardboard boxes.
However, according to this animated movie trolls also appreciate consumer packaging.
Cheesebridge is being terrorized by a subterranean species dubbed The Boxtrolls by the terrified residents on account they wear old boxes for clothes.
Rumoured to consume babies, the Lord of Cheesebridge (Jared Harris) employs a psychotic exterminator (Ben Kingsley) and his crew (Nick Frost, Richard Ayoade, Tracy Morgan) to eradicate the Boxtrolls.
Unbeknownst to everyone in the town, except the Lord’s daughter (Elle Fanning), a human boy (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) is living amongst the Boxtrolls and fighting to save them from extinction.
Dark, disgusting and slightly demented, this mature stop-motion adaptation of the children’s book doesn’t shy away from the gross, morbid things that kids revel in.
By the way, hungry trolls may just be the solution to homelessness.
If your wife ever goes missing, be sure to put her photo on the sides of skim milk cartons only.
Unfortunately, the husband in this drama is too detached to care.
When beloved children’s book inspiration Amazing Amy (Rosamund Pike) disappears on her fifth wedding anniversary, her husband Nick (Ben Affleck) becomes the prime suspect.
Condemned on cable news networks as a wife-killer, Nick’s aloofness, and his secret affair, draws further aspersions of guilt.
However, the true fate of Amy is more shocking than her initial vanishing, and subsequent return.
While Affleck does an outstanding job as the deadbeat spouse, it’s Pike’s restrained performance as Amy that really brings this alarming adaptation of the bestselling book to life.
Shrewdly directed by David Fincher, Gone Girl is a complex and cunning commentary on marriage, murder and media sensationalism.
Incidentally, doing interviews in your missing wife’s clothing doesn’t gain you public favour.
Men, Women & Children
In the olden days, if you talked on the phone during dinner your parents could strangle you with the phone cord.
Lamentably, as this drama details, parents now need to download a strangling App.
A father (Dean Norris) tries to connect with his son (Ansel Elgort), who is cyber-stalking his estranged mother online.
A stage mother (Judy Greer) takes lurid photos of her daughter (Olivia Crocicchia) to post online.
An overprotective mom (Jennifer Garner) scrutinizes her daughter’s online activities ad nauseam.
A married couple (Adam Sandler, Rosemarie DeWitt) finds gratification online, while their son can’t find gratification in reality.
A timely hodge-podge of cautionary tales concerning the Internet, eating disorders, child pornography and suicide, MW&C comes off as scattershot.
And while the message of re-connecting is well established, the delivery is preachy and pessimistic.
Besides, the best way to watch your kid online is to befriend them as a stranger.
A Walk Among the Tombstones
Strolling among high-priced gravestones is a good time to consider cremation.
Mind you, the protagonist in this action movie is more apt to put people into graves.
Years after quitting the police force and the bottle, unlicensed investigator Matthew Scudder (Liam Neeson) agrees to help a drug-dealer get back his wife from kidnappers.
While his attempt is fruitless, Scudder does learn the kidnappers’ identities and sets out to end their trail of female victims.
Along the way, he picks up a young protégé (Brian Bradley) with an affinity for detective novels.
Reprising his tough guy persona once again, Neeson manages to bring some compassion to this role through his interactions with the kid.
A seedy mystery with random paroxysms of gunplay, this adaptation of the best-selling book series featuring Scudder is a worthy representation of the hard-boiled detective.
Incidentally, what makes a really successful private eye is first-rate voice narration.
If you’re going to call yourself an Equalizer, you had better have some remarkably accurate measuring cups.
Mind you, it’s not a recipe the stranger in this action movie is trying to balance, but the scales of justice.
After witnessing a pimp abuse his friend (Chloë Grace Moretz), former CIA operative Bob McCall (Denzel Washington) murders the pimp and five others.
His actions alert the Russian mob boss (Vladimir Kulich) running the prostitution and racketeering rings in the neighbourhood. In turn, he sends in ex-Spetsnaz (Marton Csokas) to kill McCall.
But in order to do that, the specialist must survive McCall’s carefully orchestrated counterstrikes against him.
Based on the ‘80s TV show, this take on the revenge-for-hire premise lacks character development and depth, but it makes up for both in stylish violence and restrained bravado.
Plus, with the Russians out of the way, the Asian gangs can now move in.
Get On Up
The best thing about a movie based on your life is that you get to see how you die.
Regrettably, the person in this biography is already dead.
Raised in a troubled home, James Brown (Chadwick Boseman) found a way out through music.
From impersonating Little Richard to singing lead for The Famous Flames to eventually helming his own group, James establishes himself not only as a vocal powerhouse but also an influential voice in the Black community.
Behind closed doors, however, he’s a controlling wife-beater prone to erratic mood swings.
But his abuse of his wife and his band mates never stops him from producing hits.
Backed by Boseman’s breakthrough performance, James’ prolific catalogue and a spirited script, Get On Up does an exemplary job of capturing the turbulent genius of James Brown.
Besides, how can you stay mad at a man who does the splits after he backhands you?
No Good Deed
If your black neighbour ever asks to borrow some sugar, don’t assume they mean brown sugar.
Fortunately, spice profiling isn’t an issue in this thriller.
Despite her husband’s (Henry Simmons) absence, when Colin (Idris Elba) appears on her doorstep claiming he was in an accident, Terri (Taraji P. Henson) allows him in to wait for a tow truck.
Eventually, her friend Meg (Leslie Bibb) drops by for a visit. But when she disappears, Terri begins to suspect Colin may have done something.
Her suspicious is verified when Colin takes her and her kids on a trip to meet his cheating fiancée (Kate del Castillo).
Simplistic to the point of stupidity, with painful dialogue and a subdued end fight, No Good Deed is a poor retread of better domestic revenge movies.
Besides, the only man a married woman should allow into her home is the one she hired to kill her husband.
The key to surviving boyhood is good medical coverage.
However, this drama goes beyond the obligatory broken arm.
2002 – Mason Evans, Jr. (Ellar Coltrane) is six years old when his mother Olivia (Patricia Arquette) leaves her then-boyfriend and moves him and his older sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater) to Houston, in order to attend university.
2005 – Olivia marries her professor but his drinking ends the marriage.
2008 – Mason takes an interest in girls, while his mom marries one of her students: an alcoholic vet.
2013 – Mason must break up with his girlfriend before heading to university.
Periodically, Mason’s unemployed but amusing dad (Ethan Hawke) shows up to take them bowling and offers an unbiased ear.
Meticulously filmed over a 12-year period, director/writer Richard Linklater masterfully weaves an elaborate yet intimate and honest portrait of growing up.
Incidentally, boyhood typically ends when you’re kicked out of choir.
The Skeleton Twins
The upside to having a sibling is that you don’t have to wear your parent’s hand-me-downs.
However, the siblings in this drama are now adults who can buy their own clothes.
Moments before attempting suicide, Maggie (Kristen Wiig) is alerted to her brother Milo’s (Bill Hader) suicide attempt.
Reunited after a decade, she invites him to stay with her and her husband (Luke Wilson) while he recovers.
On the mend, Milo confronts an old flame (Ty Burrell) that took advantage of him as a teen.
Meanwhile, Maggie continues to sleep with strangers as a means of coping with her father’s death when her and Milo were kids.
A dysfunctional family drama with a serious sarcastic streak, The Skeleton Twins utilizes the comedic talents of both leads to bring life to these despondent characters.
However, if you’re both going to kill yourselves, why not make it a murder/suicide?
The best part about being a walrus is that Sea World trainers are more focused on abusing the whales.
Mind you, Sea World looks like Heaven compared to the Hell this walrus must endure.
Brash podcast host Wallace (Justin Long) travels to Winnipeg to interview a viral-video star for his web series.
Unfortunately, the star committed suicide—leaving Wallace without a story.
Desperate, he answers a cryptic ad for a roommate.
Arriving at the remote mansion, Wallace is drugged and encased in a walrus suit constructed by his psychotic host (Michael Parks).
Based on his own podcast, writer/director Kevin Smith masterfully brings this aquatic nightmare to life in the film’s first half.
However, that fear fades in the latter half when a badly disguised Johnny Depp masterfully fails as a French-Canadian detective.
Besides, how can Canada have a viral-video star when the country doesn’t even have the Internet?
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