28 July 2008

The X-Files: I Want to Believe

The X-Files: I Want to Believe

It turns out that there aren't nearly as many would-be believers today as there were a decade ago.

The X-Files: I Want to Believe opened in theaters last weekend to the tune of about $10 million in domestic box office receipts—roughly one third of the opening weekend tally of the first X-Files feature in 1998.

As an X-Files fan, I enjoyed the new movie. There is comfort just in spending time with Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) six years after the series ended. But it's far from a triumphant return and unlikely to win over non-"X-Philes."

Written by series creator Chris Carter, who also directed, and longtime collaborator Frank Spotnitz, I Want to Believe ignores the confusing alien/government conspiracy plot in favor of the "monster-of-the-week" format. It is anything but a "standalone" story, however.

25 July 2008

Step Brothers

Step Brothers

The Judd Apatow comedy family tree has two branches (though there usually is some crossover). One includes actors like Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd, Jonah Hill and Leslie Mann, and has resulted in some of my favorite films of the last few years—The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Superbad, Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

Then there is the Will Ferrell/Adam McKay/John C. Reilly branch, which is responsible for Anchorman, Talladega Nights, Walk Hard—movies that have their moments but lack the honesty and heart of the other group's output. That would be a kind description of their latest effort, Step Brothers, a movie that seems to have never evolved beyond the basic concept stage.

Ferrell and Reilly play immature, middle-aged men who never left home and are forced to share a room when they become step brothers. OK. Now what?

22 July 2008

I still want to believe—does anyone else?

"I want to believe."

For years (from 1993 to 2002, to be exact), those simple words were the driving force in the life of FBI Agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny)—and for many in the legions of die-hard fans of The X-Files (known as "X-Philes"), as well.

Now the question is, do they still want to believe?

The X-Files: I Want to Believe

Today, six years after the groundbreaking TV series ended its nine-year run about two seasons too late (Duchovny was MIA for almost all of the final season), Mulder and his partner (and lover?) Agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) are back on the big screen in The X-Files: I Want to Believe.

17 July 2008

The Dark Knight

The Dark Knight

Referring to the The Dark Knight as a “comic book” or “superhero” movie seems to diminish its greatness. This is not light summer entertainment that will leave you when you leave the theater. Christopher Nolan’s sequel to his 2005 origin story Batman Begins is a dark, foreboding picture that grapples with very real issues of heroism and villainy, order and chaos.

The tragedy of Heath Ledger, whose maniacal performance as The Joker will become the stuff of movie legend, casts an even greater pall.

When an Oscar nomination comes early next year, cynics surely will say it is only due to Ledger’s death last January from an accidental prescription drug overdose. Don’t listen to them. His work here is mesmerizing, magnetic. You can’t keep your eyes off of him. He upstages everyone in a cast that includes the likes of Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman and Morgan Freeman.

11 July 2008

Hellboy II: The Golden Army

Hellboy II: The Golden Army

One could spend hours poring over the wondrous sights, the monstrous creations of writer-director Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy II: The Golden Army. The Troll Market scene alone secures the film a place in movie history. Not since Luke Skywalker walked into the cantina in Star Wars has such unbridled imagination flowed from the screen.

It is here in the Troll Market, amid monsters of all shapes and sizes, that our hero, the red-skinned, cigar-smoking, kitten-loving demon called Hellboy (Ron Perlman), at last feels at home. For years, he and his sidekicks — his incendiary girlfriend Liz (Selma Blair) and the aquatic empath Abe Sapien (Doug Jones) — have been dutiful servants of the U.S. government’s Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense, occasionally venturing out to save the day, then going back into hiding, before the public gets wise to their existence.

Hellboy just wants to live like everyone else. But when he finally gets the attention he craves, people stare at him. They taunt and throw things at him.

03 July 2008

The year so far ...

2008 has reached the midway point, so I thought I'd give you my top 10 from what the year has had to offer so far (or, at least, the movies I've been able to see so far).

2. Forgetting Sarah Marshall
3. Iron Man
4. Cloverfield
5. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
6. The Strangers
7. The Incredible Hulk
8. In Bruges
9. George A. Romero's Diary of the Dead
10. The Life Before Her Eyes

By a long shot, Speed Racer is at the bottom of the list.

This month sees the release of three of my most anticipated movies of the year, starting next Friday, July 11, with Hellboy II: The Golden Army, and continuing July 18 with The Dark Knight and July 25 with The X-Files: I Want to Believe.

01 July 2008



It’s Fourth of July weekend, and that can mean only one thing: A new Will Smith movie is opening.

It’s coincidence more than anything else that has so linked him to this particular time of year because his movies open big no matter when they are released. He is as close to a sure thing at the box office as we will ever see. Whether it’s science fiction (Independence Day, Men in Black), drama (The Pursuit of Happyness), romantic comedy (Hitch), mindless action (Bad Boys) or a post-apocalyptic zombie movie (I Am Legend), moviegoers will pay to see Will Smith.

With Hancock, he tackles the booming superhero genre—but not without a twist.