Currently browsing posts by Hannah Buchdahl.

Draft Day

Draft Day is perfectly likable, but it wouldn’t really make the cut for anyone’s fantasy team of sports movies. It’s superficial entertainment geared toward the ESPN Sports Center crowd, with a bit of chick-flick appeal — sort of a rookie version of Jerry McGwire meets Moneyball. Kevin Costner plays Sonny Weaver, the general manager of football’s Cleveland Browns who is tasked with ‘making a splash’ on Draft Day if he expects to keep his job. It’s a dramatic day that can have a life-changing impact on the lives of front-office personnel, coaches, players and NFL hopefuls across the country. Weaver has the opportunity to rebuild his team when he trades for the number-one draft pick. But his decisions come with consequences, personal and professional.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

I’m always a bit torn when it comes to Captain America, the first Avenger. Chris Evans wears the suit extremely well, but his storylines never seem to grab – or entertain – me the way Iron Man (my favorite Avenger) does. CA: Winter Soldier is thin on plot and heavy on fight scenes, so it’s more of a means to an end for advancing Marvel’s Avengers franchise and less of a stand-alone movie. Here’s the gist of the plot as far as I could discern: Oh wait. First, a quick refresher: Captain America, aka Steve Rogers (Evans) was a scrawny kid transformed by a super serum into a super-soldier during World War Two. At some point while battling the evil HYDRA organization, Steve fell into some ice. Fast forward a couple of decades, and a newly-defrosted Captain America is struggling to reconcile his time-honored morals, sensibilities, and tastes in music with what’s evolved in the modern world. It’s classic ‘fish out of water’ stuff.

Divergent

Okay, I guess there is room for another young adult movie franchise that centers around a strong female character battling to survive in a dystopian futuristic society. Divergent doesn’t rise to the level of The Hunger Games, but it should satisfy fans of the best-selling book by Veronica Roth. The movie doesn’t offer up anything particularly fresh character or story-wise (compared to the aforementioned Hunger Games), but it survives – and will likely thrive- because the actors are all quite good. Especially the lead actress, Shailene Woodley (The Descendants, The Spectacular Now).

Bad Words

“The end justifies the mean.” That’s one of the tag lines for Bad Words. And that pretty well sums it up, because you spend the majority of the movie waiting to discover why the main character is such a prick. Pardon my language, but seriously, that’s the most appropriate word to describe Guy Trilby, a 40-year-old man who forces his way into a kids’ national spelling bee competition by exploiting a loophole in the eligibility rules. The usually-endearing Jason Bateman takes a walk on the dark and crude side to play Trilby in this R-rated comedy that also marks his feature directorial debut. At first, it’s hard to buy the baby-faced Bateman as an evil spelling genius who’s willing to do whatever it takes to sink his young and emotionally-vulnerable competition. But by the third or fourth ‘oh no, he di’int’ moment, bad Bateman becomes believable.

Veronica Mars

Full disclosure #1: I own a piece of this movie. Well, me and a gazillion other ‘kickstarter contributors’ who coughed up x-number of dollars for a slew of ‘insider’ emails and an ill-fitting tee-shirt (unless you’re shaped like an Abercrombie and Fitch model). Full disclosure #2: I’ve never seen a single episode of the ‘Veronica Mars’ television series that ran from 2004-2007 and obviously built a cult following in desperate need of closure.

Non-Stop

Check your cynicism and plausibility meter at the gate, because Non-Stop is fraught with narrative turbulence. So take it with a grain of salt, and enjoy it for what it is… a guilty pleasure movie. Serious-actor-turned-action-star Liam Neeson plays Bill Marks, a U.S. Air Marshal who is set up to take the fall for murder and hijacking aboard a transatlantic flight from New York to London. He gets a series of text messages en route, indicating someone will die on board the flight every 20 minutes until $150 million is transferred into an off-shore account. Let the countdown… and the body count… begin.

Winter’s Tale

Winter’s Tale is an okay chick flick that never quite finds its way. It’s part time travel, part fantasy, part drama, part romance. Sometimes sad, sometimes funny, sometimes very odd… like when a horse sprouts wings or Will Smith pops up as the devil.

Fans of the 1983 book by Mark Helprin will be shocked at how much the movie diverts from the lengthy novel. Many of the major characters from the book are changed, omitted or made into composites that don’t make much sense. Like why do so many of the characters affect various accents? And what’s with Colin Farrell’s hair? But I digress…

The Monuments Men

It was hard not to wonder WHY the release of The Monuments Men was delayed by several months, missing out on the awards-season bru-ha-ha. Now I (think I) know. It simply isn’t good enough. It’s not bad by any means, but it is disappointing, especially when you consider the raw materials that included an interesting story and an A-list cast led by George Clooney, who also directed the film.

The Monuments Men is based on the true story of an unlikely platoon of soldiers– museum directors, architects, artists, curators and art historians – who went to the front lines during World War II to help rescue, preserve and return some of the world’s greatest artistic masterpieces, jeopardized by Nazi thieves.

Ride Along

Ride Along is a typical, formulaic, middle-of-the-road January offering. Not exactly a must see, but harmless entertainment. A sort of Beverly Hills Cop light. In Atlanta. Kevin Hart plays Ben, a fast-talking high-school security guard and video-game junkie with aspirations to join the police academy. But his potential future brother-in-law (Ice Cube), a hot-tempered Atlanta detective, doesn’t think Ben has what it takes to be a cop, or to marry his sister Angela (Tika Sumpter). So he takes Ben on a ride-along that’s essentially been ‘fixed’ to include only the most annoying and obnoxious runs. Of course, the plan goes awry and comedy and ‘drama’ ensue.

Lone Survivor

Lone Survivor is difficult to watch. So difficult, in fact, that I covered my eyes for the majority of the second half. It’s a hard-core war movie. It’s intense. Brutal. Bloody. And depressing. So unless you have the stomach for long battle scenes pitting a small band of brothers against a largely unseen enemy in the mountains of Afghanistan, then I suggest you take a pass.