Custom Search





Bridge Of Spies


October 15, 2015

Bridge of Spies (***) PG-13    

Bridge of Spies is only director Steven Spielberg’s fifth film since 2005, but I think it’s safe to say that it’s certainly the best thing he’s done since the period piece Munich. That’s not to say that the film doesn’t have flaws, particularly a second act where the film seems to be on auto-pilot, but it’s entertaining enough. It’s guaranteed to play best with those who have little to no knowledge of the real life events that the film depicts but that’s to be expected. It’s an occasionally rousing film that, at the very least, comes alive from time to time, unlike the director’s last film, the overhyped Lincoln, which suffered from stagnant pacing that bogged the proceedings down.

For Bridge of Spies, Spielberg has chosen to reteam with Tom Hanks. Hanks, as usual, brings his earnestness and everyman (i.e. Jimmy Stewart) demeanor to the proceedings and it’s just what the pic calls for. Here Hanks is cast as James Donovan. Donovan is a NY insurance lawyer who believes that every man deserves a fair shot at being defended. Against the advice of practically everyone in his orbit, Donovan takes on the case of Rudolph Abel (Mark Rylance), a supposed Russian spy. This being the 1950s and with the cold war looming large in the nation’s cultural zeitgeist, it doesn’t come as a surprise to Donovan that taking on Abel’s case isn’t going to be a walk in the park.

Just when things are looking pretty dire for Donovan, a fortuitous incident transpires in the capture in Russia of US spy, Francis Gary Powers (Austin Stowell).

Three greats: Alan Alda, Tom Hanks & Amy Ryan in Bridge of Spies

Donovan realizes that perhaps his best chance of keeping Abel from frying in the electric chair is to literally swap spies. Things become even more complicated when an American college student is also captured and government officials become obsessed with trading Abel for not one but both men.

The film’s final section is the most effective as the audience is privy to the machinations that led to Donovan’s successfully carrying out his assigned task. Spielberg manages to keep the suspense flowing, not an easy task when one takes into consideration that any student of history knows the eventual outcome of events.

Spielberg employs his usual band of collaborators (cinematographer, Janusz Kaminski, editor Michael Kahn, etc.) in the technical departments and their contributions, as usual, are top notch. Notable is the new addition of Thomas Newman, who takes over scoring chores from Spielberg’s usual choice of John Williams and does an ample job. I’m assuming Williams was busy scoring the new Star Wars film and wasn’t available for that reason, but I digress.

Band of Spies isn’t likely to set the world on fire in terms of revolutionary cinematic storytelling but it’s just interesting and diverting enough that most viewers will cozy up to it. It’s not vintage Spielberg but it gets the job done.

Goosebumps (***) PG

While taking in the long awaited big screen version of author R.L. Stein’s series of childrens books Goosebumps, my mind kept recalling a film from my teen years called The Monster Squad. In that 1987 film, a group of kids attempt to save the world when the classic trio of Universal studios movie monsters—Mummy, Wolfman and Dracula—come to life and wreck a small town looking for a lost amulet of some sort. It’s a film held in high regard by many who happened to come of age in those fondly remembered days of the late 1980s. I couldn’t help but wonder if the filmmaking team behind Goosebumps weren’t inspired by it in some way or another as the film’s plot bears an awful lot of similarities. 

Goosebumps the film is based on the series of books of the same name but I would be doing viewers a great disservice if I didn’t mention that the film is not an adaptation of stories found in those books. Anyone expecting ghost stories of the Goosebumps sort will have to look elsewhere.

The film does something different in that it takes the author of those books, R.L. Stine, and makes him one of the central characters. Stine (Jack Black, certainly a plum choice for this kind of role) is the neighbor of new kid in town, Zach Cooper (Dylan Minnette).

Jack Black, Odeya Rush & Dylan Minnette in Goosebumps

Zach and his mom (Amy Ryan) have moved to their new surroundings due to his mom’s new job as an assistant principal. Zach’s dad has recently died and he and his mom are attempting to put their lives back together in the wake of the tragedy. Zach chances to meet his neighbor Hannah (Odeya Rush), whose father is the famed author R.L. Stine. Zach starts to notice some strange goings on at Hannah’s house and accidentally unleashes a torrent of monsters from the pages of Stine’s writings which have, until Zach’s meddling, been kept locked away, quite literally, in the author’s books. With the town being overrun by werewolves, zombies, and just about any other creature you can think of, it’s up to Zach, Stine, Hannah and one of Zach’s newfound school chums to save the town or maybe the world, depending on how you look at things.

Goosebumps really scores with its sense of humor and mostly engaging visual effects. Movies like this are dependent on the special effects to work convincingly to aid the storytelling. The technology is mostly well done here and, thankfully, lacking the cartoonish look that plagues so many films like this. Though I felt at times that I had seen it before, i.e. The Monster Squad, that didn’t stop me from enjoying it from time to time. It shouldn’t stop you either.

Questions or comments? Write Adam at



99 Homes

The Martian • Sicario & The Walk

The Intern • The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials • Everest

The Visit & Black Mass

Mistress America

The Diary Of A Teenage Girl A Walk In The Woods

American Ultra • No Escape • Sinister 2

Straight Outta Compton, The End Of The Tour, The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Irrational Man & Fantastic Four

Ricki And The Flash & The Gift

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation • Southpaw • Vacation

Ant-Man & Trainwreck


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 &

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




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


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


Whiplash & The Theory Of Everything

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 • Horrible Bosses 2

Dumb And Dumber To

Birdman & Interstellar




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


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



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



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




BannerEventAd-01.jpg   BannerEventAd-01.jpg

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

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 - 2018 Tucker Productions, Inc.