Custom Search




banner2

banner3

banner3

banner2


Irrational Man

Fantastic Four

August 13, 2015

Irrational Man (** ½)

Woody Allen’s latest filmmaking exercise, Irrational Man, is not the dud that early word might have you believe. In fact, the film contains some crackling dialogue and thought provoking existential discussions that aren’t likely to be found on too many multiplex screens at this time of the year. For that alone some sort of credit must be given and more cerebral audience members may want to seek it out for those very reasons. The celebrated filmmaker continues to stick to his guns and do what he does best and the film is like a breath of fresh air, coming in a summer which has shown audiences more of the same in recent summers past.  It’s nice and refreshing to see adults in a film who grapple with real issues and have real discussions regarding weighty subjects.

Unfortunately Irrational Man has the feel of an artist who’s struggling to find a way to take subjects they’ve explored before and put a new twist on them. Revisiting previous cinematic territory—in this case Match Point and Crimes and Misdemeanors—isn’t necessarily a cardinal sin for filmmakers, many have made a career doing just that. It becomes a problem when you can feel the wheels turning as the story unfolds. There are more than a few moments like this but, thankfully, most of them don’t occur until the final act. By that time the viewer will likely be so far into the story that they may be willing to forgive the filmmaker for his transgressions. At least I did, in spite of the film having a finish that feels rushed and more than a tad unpolished.

Phoenix & Stone in a scene from Irrational Man

The plot here concerns Abe (Joaquin Phoenix, bringing echoes of his character in last year’s Inherent Vice), a college professor who’s lost the ability to derive any joy from life. He wants to feel alive but honestly doesn’t know how anymore. In spite of his being such a glum sad sack, he manages to attract the affections of both Parker Posey and Emma Stone, a plot development that may stretch credibility for some.

Abe and his student, Jill (Stone), overhear a conversation in a diner, which puts Abe on the path to regaining his life but, unfortunately, it involves murder. Abe attempts to rationalize his moral dilemma and it’s a question that can be looked at from many angles. Unfortunately,  Abe seems incapable of doing that once his mind is made up to carry out the heinous act.

Irrational Man does hold its own for a while but the final sequence doesn’t seem organic and that’s where I felt writer/director Allen’s inability to completely pull off his variation on earlier themes. Still, it’s an interesting film for most of its running time, flaws and all. And besides, I’ll take it any day over having to sit through Fantastic Four again.

Per the Carmike website, Irrational Man will continue to play in Hickory this coming week.

Fantastic Four (* ½)

I was under the impression that the reason for rebooting a film franchise was to ‘get it right’ after an unsuccessful first attempt went awry but I guess that’s just the logical side of my brain kicking into gear. We all know the real reason for rebooting a film franchise is that the studios can continue squeezing revenue from valuable properties ad infinitum. Still, you would think that when a film as universally panned as the original Fantastic Four film was-made less than a decade ago, nonetheless-there would be some careful attempt to right the previous wrongs that were done. You know you’re in trouble when it becomes readily apparent early on that the previously flawed attempt is better than what’s transpiring right before your eyes.

Part of the problem with the new Fantastic Four, and there are many, is the film’s structure.

Kate Mara as Sue Storm in Fantastic Four

With such a treasure trove of story ideas to draw on as contained in the original Fantastic Four comics I can’t help but wonder why it was so hard for the filmmakers to craft a decent script with three logical acts. The film’s first hour is overloaded with clunky exposition that could have been pared down to five minutes or less. Instead of giving us a compelling story the film drones on for an hour, drowning in its oversimplification of the atypical origins story found in too many of these kinds of films. Had the filmmakers chosen to go the route of paring down the first hour of the film into five minutes they would have quickly realized they had no second or third acts and probably would have attempted to rectify the situation. When the villain shows up 75 minutes into a film that’s has only 101 minutes as its total running time, the script’s got problems.

The origin story in the previous film, a plot that more closely resembled the one found in the comics, had the foursome of the film’s title being exposed to radiation while in space and thus gaining their respective superpowers. Here the four, courtesy of young science wiz, Reed Richards (Miles Teller), who’s mastered the art of traveling to alternate dimensions, find themselves ensnared in some green goop and thereafter becoming ‘Fantastic.’ This happens while Reed and pals, Johnny and Kate Storm (Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara) and Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell) attempt to test out Richards’ device and get more than they bargained for in the deal. They also manage to inadvertently create the film’s villain, Doom (Toby Kebbell) who’s about as scary as your big drunk uncle at the holiday party.

Fantastic Four basically caves under the weigh of its dull and unsurprising storytelling devices more than anything else. The cast performs capably but one can only do so much with lackluster material. Perhaps another Fantastic Four reboot is not out of the question, after all.

Questions or comments? Write Adam at filmfan1970@hotmail.com.

 

ARCHIVES:

Ricki And The Flash & The Gift

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation • Southpaw • Vacation

Ant-Man & Trainwreck

Self/Less

Amy • Magic Mike XXL, Terminator: Genisys

Me & Earl & The Dying Girl, Ted 2

Inside Out & Dope

Love and Mercy & Jurassic World

Insidious Chapter 3

San Andreas & Aloha

Poltergeist &
Tomorrowland

Mad Max: Fury Road

Hot Pursuit

Avengers: Age Of Ultron

Ex Machina

While We’re Young & Unfriended

The Longest Ride

Fast & Furious 7

It Follows

Divergent

Cinderella

Chappie

Focus & The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Hot Tub Time Machine 2

Fifty Shades Of Grey

Jupiter Ascending

Still Alice

The Imitation Game A Most Violent Year

American Sniper Inherent Vice

Selma & Taken 3

Unbroken

Big Eyes • The Interview

Night At The Museum The Secret of the Tomb • The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Top Five • Wild • Annie

Foxcatcher

Whiplash & The Theory Of Everything

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 • Horrible Bosses 2

Dumb And Dumber To

Birdman & Interstellar

Nightcrawler

Ouija

Fury

The Judge

Annabelle & Gone Girl

The Equalizer & Happy 75th, GWTW!

The Drop • A Walk Among & The Tombstones

No Good Deed

The Identical

As Above, So Below & November Man

If I Stay & Sin City: A Dame To Kill For

The Giver • Code Black & The Expendables 3

Boyhood • Into The Storm & Magic In The Moonlight

Get On Up & Guardians Of The Galaxy

Lucy

Begin Again & The Purge: Anarchy

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes

Chef & Tammy

Transformers: Age Of Extinction

Jersey Boys

22 Jump Street & How To Train Your Dragon 2

The Fault Is In Our Stars & Edge Of Tomorrow

A Million Ways To Die In The West

X-Men: Days Of Future Past Maleficent

Godzilla • Summer Preview

Neighbors • Godzilla

The Amazing Spiderman 2 & Belle

The Other Woman & Brick Mansions

A Haunted House 2 & Heaven Is For Real

Oculus & Rio 2

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Noah

Divergent

The Grand Budapest Hotel & Veronica Mars

300: Rise of the Empire

Non-Stop & Son Of God

Three Days To Kill

Robocop & The Past • About Last Night

The Monuments Men

Labor Day

I, Frankenstein

Inside Llewyn Davis & Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Lone Survivor & August: Osage County

Her • Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones

Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom & The Wolf Of Wall Street

The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, Saving Mr. Banks, American Hustle, Anchorman 2

The Hobbit: The Desolation & Of Smaug • Nebraska

Dallas Buyers Club & Oldboy & Out Of The Furnace

Philomena & The Book Thief

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire & Delivery Man

About Time & All Is Lost

Thor: The Dark World & 12 Years A Slave

Ender’s Game & Last Vegas

Bad Grandpa &The Counselor

Carrie & The Fifth Estate

Captain Phillips, Enough Said & Machete Kills

Gravity & Runner Runner

Metallica: Through The Never , Rush & Don Jon

Prisoners & Rush

Insidious: Chapter 2 • The Family & The Spectacular Now

Riddick

Getaway

The World’s End You’re Next

Lee Daniels’ The Butler • Jobs • Blue Jasmine

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters & Elysium

2 Guns

Blue Jasmine • The Wolverine & Fruitvale Station

Fruitvale Station • The Conjuring & The Way Way Back

Pacific Rim & Grown Ups 2

The Lone Ranger & Despicable Me 2

The Heat & White House Down

Monsters University, World War Z, Before Midnight & The East

Man of Steel & This Is The End

The Internship & The Purge

After Earth, Now You See Me & Frances Ha

The Hangover Part III Before Midnight

Star Trek: Into Darkness & Fast and Furious 6

The Great Gatsby & Frances Ha

Iron Man & Peeples

Pain and Gain & Mud

Oblivion & Lords of Salem

42 and Scary Movie 5

Evil Dead & Jurassic Park 3-D

G.I. Joe: Retaliation Tyler Perry’s Temptation

Spring Breakers Admission

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone • The Call

Oz: The Great And Powerful West Of Memphis

Jack the Giant Slayer The Last Exorcism, Part II

Dark Skies & Snitch

A Good Day to Die Hard & Safe Haven

Side Effects & Identity Thief

Bullet To The Head Warm Bodies


 

 

 

fanjoylabrenz.jpg   fanjoylabrenz.jpg

PO Box 1721 | Hickory, NC 28603 | 828.322.1036 | Office Hours: Mon. - Fri. 9am - 5pm | focusnews@centurylink.net

Home • Reviews: MoviesAdam Long • Editorials: FocusHave Chainsaw Will TravelSid On SportsBobbi GSara MawyerPeople PicturesPlaces/PeopleExtra Events Listing
Out Of Focus • News: Local NewsNational NewsHoroscopes • Info/Links: Staff/ContributorsList Of AdvertisersOnline AdvertisingOnline ClassifiedsContact UsFocus BLOGStoreLinks

© 1978 - 2017 Tucker Productions, Inc.