Summer Movies List 2014

It may feel like winter in New York, but here we are again. It’s the 6th Annual PCB Summer Movie List!

'The Amazing Spider-Man 2' comes out this weekend, officially kicking off the season (despite an early entry from 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier,' summer movie season practically starts in March now). Keeping with tradition of the past five years, below are all of the summer movies I’m interested in seeing, subject to change based on buzz and reception.

I do this mostly as a reference for myself, and like usual I’ll be crossing off the ones I’ve seen and linking to any reviews I write. Look for sporadic reblogs of this post throughout the summer to check in on my progress.

  • The Amazing Spider-Man 2 - May 2
  • Neighbors - May 9
  • Chef - May 9
  • Godzilla - May 16
  • Million Dollar Arm - May 16
  • X-Men Days of Future Past - May 23
  • A Million Ways to Die in the West - May 30
  • Edge of Tomorrow - June 6
  • The Fault in Our Stars - June 6
  • 22 Jump Street - June 13
  • How to Train Your Dragon 2 - June 13
  • Jersey Boys - June 20
  • Tammy - July 4
  • Boyhood - July 11
  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes - July 18
  • Sex Tape - July 18
  • Jupiter Ascending - July 25
  • Guardians of the Galaxy - Aug 1
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Aug 8
  • The Giver - Aug 15
  • Sin City: A Dame to Kill For - Aug 22

I’m pretty optimistic about this year’s slate. For fun here’s years’ past: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013

Summer Movies List 2013 (Final Update)

Summer movie season is officially over. And though few of the big tent poles delivered in full, the smaller films more than made up for it. Especially ‘This Is The End’, ‘The Way Way Back’, and ‘The World’s End.’

  • ‘Iron Man 3’ - May 3
  • ‘The Great Gatsby’ - May 10
  • ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ - May 17
  • ‘The Hangover Part III’ - May 24*
  • ‘Fast and the Furious 6’ - May 24
  • ‘After Earth’ - May 31*
  • ‘The Kings of Summer’ - May 31 (Microreview)
  • ‘The Internship’ - June 7*
  • ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ - June 7
  • ‘Man of Steel’ - June 14
  • ‘This Is The End’ - June 14
  • ‘The Bling Ring’ - June 14
  • Monsters University’ - June 21 (Review)
  • ‘World War Z’ - June 21*
  • ‘The Heat’ - June 28
  • ‘The Way Way Back’ - July 5
  • ‘Pacific Rim’ - July 12
  • ‘RIPD’ - July 19*
  • ‘The Wolverine’ - July 26
  • ‘Blue Jasmine’ - July 26
  • 'The Spectacular Now' - Aug 2
  • ‘Elysium’ - Aug 9
  • ‘Kick-Ass 2’ - Aug 16*
  • ‘The To-Do List’ - Aug 16
  • ‘The World’s End’ - Aug 23

* Denotes a loss of interest in seeing these.

Infographic: The 2013 Summer Box Office Summed Up in One Image | Movies.com
Note: ‘The Heat’ was the highest grossing original property this summer.

Infographic: The 2013 Summer Box Office Summed Up in One Image | Movies.com

Note: ‘The Heat’ was the highest grossing original property this summer.

Summer Movies List 2013 (August Update)

Checking in again …

  • ‘Iron Man 3’ - May 3
  • ‘The Great Gatsby’ - May 10
  • ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ - May 17
  • ‘The Hangover Part III’ - May 24*
  • ‘Fast and the Furious 6’ - May 24
  • ‘After Earth’ - May 31*
  • ‘The Kings of Summer’ - May 31 (Microreview)
  • ‘The Internship’ - June 7*
  • ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ - June 7
  • ‘Man of Steel’ - June 14
  • ‘This Is The End’ - June 14
  • ‘The Bling Ring’ - June 14
  • Monsters University’ - June 21 (Review)
  • ‘World War Z’ - June 21*
  • ‘The Heat’ - June 28
  • ‘The Way Way Back’ - July 5
  • ‘Pacific Rim’ - July 12
  • ‘RIPD’ - July 19*
  • ‘The Wolverine’ - July 26
  • ‘Blue Jasmine’ - July 26
  • ‘Elysium’ - Aug 9
  • ‘Kick-Ass 2’ - Aug 16
  • ‘The To-Do List’ - Aug 16
  • ‘The World’s End’ - Aug 23

* Denotes a loss of interest in seeing these.

Review: 'Pacific Rim'
"Alright, I’ll tell you, because it’s cool." Charlie Day’s character sums up all of ‘Pacific Rim’ so perfectly with just one line. The film looks stunning. The art direction, lighting, coloring, CGI, creature design, costume design and set design are all exemplary. The look of Guillermo del Toro’s latest is utterly unique and absolutely wondrous on a massive screen (and in 3D). The large and small scale battles are awesome, in the proper sense of the word, without weighing you down with grief and mass on-screen casualties. Additionally, the pacing of the script and the tone of the whole thing properly reinforce its set pieces and Del Toro and co-writer Travis Beacham thoroughly shade a deep universe and mythology. 
If only a little bit more time had been paid to the human characters. The human element of the story, of the little guy standing up to the big guy, and people coming together (literally) to bring down an enormous foe is ultimately lost. Charlie Day and Ron Pearlman are delightful in their scenes together and deliver much needed levity, but their efforts end up not being enough. Similarly, Idris Elba delivers the gravitas and speaks the words that would accompany “canceling the apocalypse,” but it all falls short of feeling grounded. And then you have Charlie Hunman, who by some error in either writing, acting or both, is cardboard and can’t ring out a drop of empathy from the audience. 
In one of the film’s more telling scenes, the breastplate is being removed off a Jaeger (giant robot) and the characters marvel at the “heart” underneath. To the audience, it looked more like a bunch a of glowing wires and mechanics. Like Day said, it’s cool — but not much beats at the center.
SPOILERY Stray thought: The film had the same exact ending as ‘The Avengers.’ Apparently the way to defeat violent aliens invading from another dimension is to hurl a nuclear bomb into the wormhole.

Review: 'Pacific Rim'

"Alright, I’ll tell you, because it’s cool." Charlie Day’s character sums up all of ‘Pacific Rim’ so perfectly with just one line. The film looks stunning. The art direction, lighting, coloring, CGI, creature design, costume design and set design are all exemplary. The look of Guillermo del Toro’s latest is utterly unique and absolutely wondrous on a massive screen (and in 3D). The large and small scale battles are awesome, in the proper sense of the word, without weighing you down with grief and mass on-screen casualties. Additionally, the pacing of the script and the tone of the whole thing properly reinforce its set pieces and Del Toro and co-writer Travis Beacham thoroughly shade a deep universe and mythology. 

If only a little bit more time had been paid to the human characters. The human element of the story, of the little guy standing up to the big guy, and people coming together (literally) to bring down an enormous foe is ultimately lost. Charlie Day and Ron Pearlman are delightful in their scenes together and deliver much needed levity, but their efforts end up not being enough. Similarly, Idris Elba delivers the gravitas and speaks the words that would accompany “canceling the apocalypse,” but it all falls short of feeling grounded. And then you have Charlie Hunman, who by some error in either writing, acting or both, is cardboard and can’t ring out a drop of empathy from the audience. 

In one of the film’s more telling scenes, the breastplate is being removed off a Jaeger (giant robot) and the characters marvel at the “heart” underneath. To the audience, it looked more like a bunch a of glowing wires and mechanics. Like Day said, it’s cool — but not much beats at the center.

SPOILERY Stray thought: The film had the same exact ending as ‘The Avengers.’ Apparently the way to defeat violent aliens invading from another dimension is to hurl a nuclear bomb into the wormhole.

Summer Movies List 2013 (July Update)

Checking in again …

  • ‘Iron Man 3’ - May 3
  • ‘The Great Gatsby’ - May 10
  • ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ - May 17
  • ‘The Hangover Part III’ - May 24*
  • ‘Fast and the Furious 6’ - May 24
  • ‘After Earth’ - May 31*
  • ‘The Kings of Summer’ - May 31 (Microreview)
  • ‘The Internship’ - June 7*
  • ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ - June 7
  • ‘Man of Steel’ - June 14
  • ‘This Is The End’ - June 14
  • ‘The Bling Ring’ - June 14
  • Monsters University’ - June 21 (Review)
  • ‘World War Z’ - June 21*
  • ‘The Heat’ - June 28
  • ‘The Way Way Back’ - July 5
  • ‘Pacific Rim’ - July 12
  • ‘RIPD’ - July 19
  • ‘The Wolverine’ - July 26
  • ‘Blue Jasmine’ - July 26
  • ‘Elysium’ - Aug 9
  • ‘Kick-Ass 2’ - Aug 16
  • ‘The To-Do List’ - Aug 16
  • ‘The World’s End’ - Aug 23

* Denotes a loss of interest in seeing these.

Summer Movies List 2013 (June Update)

Checking in …

  • ‘Iron Man 3’ - May 3
  • ‘The Great Gatsby’ - May 10
  • ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ - May 17
  • ‘The Hangover Part III’ - May 24
  • 'Fast and the Furious 6' - May 24
  • ‘After Earth’ - May 31
  • ‘The Kings of Summer’ - May 31 (Microreview)
  • ‘The Internship’ - June 7
  • ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ - June 7
  • ‘Man of Steel’ - June 14
  • ‘This Is The End’ - June 14
  • ‘The Bling Ring’ - June 14
  • ‘Monsters University’ - June 21
  • ‘World War Z’ - June 21
  • ‘The Heat’ - June 28
  • ‘The Way Way Back’ - July 5
  • ‘Pacific Rim’ - July 12
  • ‘RIPD’ - July 19
  • ‘The Wolverine’ - July 26
  • ‘Blue Jasmine’ - July 26
  • ‘Elysium’ - Aug 9
  • ‘Kick-Ass 2’ - Aug 16
  • ‘The To-Do List’ - Aug 16
  • ‘The World’s End’ - Aug 23
‘Kings of Summer’ was perfectly charming alternative summer fare, but damn if Moises Arias as Biaggio (center) didn’t run away with the whole movie. The similarities to Christopher Mintz Plasse’s McLovin are obvoius, but Arias creates a different kind of quirky outcast that feels deeper and more nuanced than McLovin could ever be. Much credit should be given to the casting and the writing of course, as many of the lines out of Biaggio’s mouth are hilarious, but the young actor brings a trademark, just-as-funny physicality. Easily one of my favorite film characters and performances of the year thus far. Pay attention to Moises Arias.

‘Kings of Summer’ was perfectly charming alternative summer fare, but damn if Moises Arias as Biaggio (center) didn’t run away with the whole movie. The similarities to Christopher Mintz Plasse’s McLovin are obvoius, but Arias creates a different kind of quirky outcast that feels deeper and more nuanced than McLovin could ever be. Much credit should be given to the casting and the writing of course, as many of the lines out of Biaggio’s mouth are hilarious, but the young actor brings a trademark, just-as-funny physicality. Easily one of my favorite film characters and performances of the year thus far. Pay attention to Moises Arias.

Summer Movies List 2013

It’s that time again. The 5th Annual PCB Summer Movie List!

With the release of ‘Iron Man 3’ this weekend we’re officially entering summer blockbuster season. Keeping with tradition of the past four years, (yikes, has it really been that long) below are all of the summer movies I’m interested in seeing (subject to change based on buzz and reception). 

I do this mostly as a reference for myself, and like usual I’ll be crossing off the ones I’ve seen and linking to any reviews I write. Look for sporadic reblogs of this post throughout the summer to check in on my progress.

  • 'Iron Man 3' - May 3
  • 'The Great Gatsby' - May 10
  • 'Star Trek Into Darkness' - May 17
  • 'The Hangover Part III' - May 24
  • 'After Earth' - May 31
  • 'The Kings of Summer' - May 31
  • 'The Internship' - June 7
  • 'Much Ado About Nothing' - June 7
  • 'Man of Steel' - June 14
  • 'This Is The End' - June 14
  • 'The Bling Ring' - June 14
  • 'Monsters University' - June 21
  • 'World War Z' - June 21
  • 'The Heat' - June 28
  • 'The Way Way Back' - July 5
  • 'Pacific Rim' - July 12
  • 'RIPD' - July 19
  • 'The Wolverine' - July 26
  • 'Blue Jasmine' - July 26
  • 'Elysium' - Aug 9
  • 'Kick-Ass 2' - Aug 16
  • 'The To-Do List' - Aug 16
  • 'The World's End' - Aug 23
Brief Review: 'The Dark Knight Rises'
In light of the tragedy in Colorado, I am going to keep this brief. It is not my intention to trivialize or ignore the massacre, and I hope the quotes that I have put up today have put my feelings into context. 
Like the physicality of Bane, ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ is a heaving, swelling monstrosity of a film. It’s nothing short of grandiose in its unrelenting portrayal of weighty material, while still delivering the hope and inspiration every good super hero movie should.  Anarchy and uprising are tackled with as much fervor as sacrifice and selflessness. But also like its terrifying villain, the film moves with a surprising velocity and flow. It’s tightly woven in plot and plays out in what feels like half its running time.
Nolan and Pfister are on perfect display, putting everything they’ve got into this one. Overhyped sequences unfold with dazzling, harrowing spectacle that feel deeply affecting and visceral. (Even if some of the dialogue is incomprehensible.) In a culture overrun with trailers, set photos, information leaks, and the like, the film’s audience-delighting twists and secrets become somewhat predictable but nonetheless land. The cast, you can tell, are all-in and play it like a swan song. Even Anne Hathaway becomes easy to like and cheer for, despite a wrongfully placed love story.
The stakes in Nolan’s final Batman are huge. Bigger than ever, and so, he delivers on its promise. It falls just short of ‘The Dark Knight’, but it resonates and ties up a truly three-film story with both weight and finesse.

Brief Review: 'The Dark Knight Rises'

In light of the tragedy in Colorado, I am going to keep this brief. It is not my intention to trivialize or ignore the massacre, and I hope the quotes that I have put up today have put my feelings into context. 

Like the physicality of Bane, ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ is a heaving, swelling monstrosity of a film. It’s nothing short of grandiose in its unrelenting portrayal of weighty material, while still delivering the hope and inspiration every good super hero movie should.  Anarchy and uprising are tackled with as much fervor as sacrifice and selflessness. But also like its terrifying villain, the film moves with a surprising velocity and flow. It’s tightly woven in plot and plays out in what feels like half its running time.

Nolan and Pfister are on perfect display, putting everything they’ve got into this one. Overhyped sequences unfold with dazzling, harrowing spectacle that feel deeply affecting and visceral. (Even if some of the dialogue is incomprehensible.) In a culture overrun with trailers, set photos, information leaks, and the like, the film’s audience-delighting twists and secrets become somewhat predictable but nonetheless land. The cast, you can tell, are all-in and play it like a swan song. Even Anne Hathaway becomes easy to like and cheer for, despite a wrongfully placed love story.

The stakes in Nolan’s final Batman are huge. Bigger than ever, and so, he delivers on its promise. It falls just short of ‘The Dark Knight’, but it resonates and ties up a truly three-film story with both weight and finesse.

Review: ‘Brave’
Once upon a time, there lived a princess in a castle… think you know the rest? About one third into Pixar’s latest, you’ll probably think you do, but as with all good storytelling, nothing is what it seems. And what seems like a straight forward story about a princess and her suitors turns out to be something else entirely. And we all should thank Mark Andrews, Pixar, Disney, and Disney’s marketing department for keeping it a secret.
Anyone that was concerned about another misstep from the people who brought you ‘Up’, ‘Toy Story’, ‘Wall-E’, ‘Finding Nemo’, ‘Ratatouille’, and ‘The Incredibles’ can rest assured. ‘Brave’ is firmly in the win column, and only improves upon their already high batting average. It belongs far more in the same breath as those than it does with ‘A Bug’s Life’ or ‘Cars’. It has everything you’ve come to expect from them, including but not limited to breathtaking visuals, relatable, enriched characters, strong, effective storytelling and vast, deep emotion. 
Disney has built much of its legacy on telling stories about princesses. Pixar, who finally got around to taking a stab at it, manage not only to pay tribute to the path that’s been paved, but cut their own way. ‘Brave’ echoes ‘Mulan’ and ‘Beauty and the Beast’ but only barely. Their princess, Merida, has higher concerns and feels more modern than many to come before her. On a design level, she immediately becomes iconic; her lush, almost-unbelievable red locks pop off the screen in every scene (and I saw it in 2D). Her motivations and character growth are pure, if a bit hazy on a grander scale. ’Brave’ is a storybook come to life, with much of what you’d expect from such a film. It includes castles, an evil witch, magic, horses, kings and queens - but never does it feel redundant or derivative. 
Like Merida herself, ‘Brave’ isn’t interested in finding love. Well, not the love you’re expecting anyway. Where a lesser film would be about Merida breaking out on her own, not wishing to settle down with a prince, the focus is instead on [SPOILERS HERE IN] the mother-daughter relationship. It’s one that isn’t often explored in these types of stories, but makes logical sense as a conflict. That and it’s entirely relatable as an allegory for modern mother-daughter relationships.
Pixar and Disney did such a fantastic job at keeping this aspect a secret, that it comes as a genuine shock when the Queen turns into a bear (there I said it). It’s the opposite of the complaints lobbed at ‘Prometheus’ and should become a new standard in Hollywood. Showing only the first act in the ads and trailers allows for a much more resonant, genuine and complete film. The full-bleed emotion catches you off guard and registers hard. ‘Brave’ isn’t even overly complicated, it doesn’t have many plot twists after that first major one, but because you’re not able to get there before the movie does it becomes more powerful. [END OF SPOILERS]
There’s a certain lack of subtlety that may turn some viewers off. Early on and then less throughout, there are some painful, slapstick-y moments that seem to be out of another film or belonging to another animation studio. They’re somewhat far and in between and are surely there for younger viewers, but to a more mature palette (with a perhaps skewed version of Pixar in their heads) it can be bothersome. 
In a lot of ways, ‘Brave’ lives up to its title. It bucks many trends of typical fairytale princess stories, while operating within the system. One can only hope its marketing plan sets a precedent in the industry. It’s unlikely but movies would be better off for it. Pixar, keep up the good work.

Review: ‘Brave

Once upon a time, there lived a princess in a castle… think you know the rest? About one third into Pixar’s latest, you’ll probably think you do, but as with all good storytelling, nothing is what it seems. And what seems like a straight forward story about a princess and her suitors turns out to be something else entirely. And we all should thank Mark Andrews, Pixar, Disney, and Disney’s marketing department for keeping it a secret.

Anyone that was concerned about another misstep from the people who brought you ‘Up’, ‘Toy Story’, ‘Wall-E’, ‘Finding Nemo’, ‘Ratatouille’, and ‘The Incredibles’ can rest assured. ‘Brave’ is firmly in the win column, and only improves upon their already high batting average. It belongs far more in the same breath as those than it does with ‘A Bug’s Life’ or ‘Cars’. It has everything you’ve come to expect from them, including but not limited to breathtaking visuals, relatable, enriched characters, strong, effective storytelling and vast, deep emotion. 

Disney has built much of its legacy on telling stories about princesses. Pixar, who finally got around to taking a stab at it, manage not only to pay tribute to the path that’s been paved, but cut their own way. ‘Brave’ echoes ‘Mulan’ and ‘Beauty and the Beast’ but only barely. Their princess, Merida, has higher concerns and feels more modern than many to come before her. On a design level, she immediately becomes iconic; her lush, almost-unbelievable red locks pop off the screen in every scene (and I saw it in 2D). Her motivations and character growth are pure, if a bit hazy on a grander scale. ’Brave’ is a storybook come to life, with much of what you’d expect from such a film. It includes castles, an evil witch, magic, horses, kings and queens - but never does it feel redundant or derivative. 

Like Merida herself, ‘Brave’ isn’t interested in finding love. Well, not the love you’re expecting anyway. Where a lesser film would be about Merida breaking out on her own, not wishing to settle down with a prince, the focus is instead on [SPOILERS HERE IN] the mother-daughter relationship. It’s one that isn’t often explored in these types of stories, but makes logical sense as a conflict. That and it’s entirely relatable as an allegory for modern mother-daughter relationships.

Pixar and Disney did such a fantastic job at keeping this aspect a secret, that it comes as a genuine shock when the Queen turns into a bear (there I said it). It’s the opposite of the complaints lobbed at ‘Prometheus’ and should become a new standard in Hollywood. Showing only the first act in the ads and trailers allows for a much more resonant, genuine and complete film. The full-bleed emotion catches you off guard and registers hard. ‘Brave’ isn’t even overly complicated, it doesn’t have many plot twists after that first major one, but because you’re not able to get there before the movie does it becomes more powerful. [END OF SPOILERS]

There’s a certain lack of subtlety that may turn some viewers off. Early on and then less throughout, there are some painful, slapstick-y moments that seem to be out of another film or belonging to another animation studio. They’re somewhat far and in between and are surely there for younger viewers, but to a more mature palette (with a perhaps skewed version of Pixar in their heads) it can be bothersome. 

In a lot of ways, ‘Brave’ lives up to its title. It bucks many trends of typical fairytale princess stories, while operating within the system. One can only hope its marketing plan sets a precedent in the industry. It’s unlikely but movies would be better off for it. Pixar, keep up the good work.

Review: Men In Black 3
I’m not going to dwell on Men In Black 3, because for the most part it’s just adequate. It’s an enjoyable summertime flick that has all the elements, but never lives up to the full potential of the original. (Full disclosure: I have never seen MIB2, have heard it’s quite bad, and have no intention to see it.)
Will Smith is in top form, doing his thing. Since it’s been so long since his last comparable role (Hancock in 2008), this seems like a revelation. He’s quick, funny, charming — all that you’d expect from him in the 90s. Good to know he’s still got it. Josh Brolin embodies Tommy Lee Jones, which makes the transition between the two seamless. It’s a shame then that his backstory that is teased throughout isn’t that interesting.  Jemaine Clement is excellent as the villain (stroke of genius casting there), and is only out done by Michael Stuhlbarg who carries the heart of the movie on his shoulders and does a damn good job. His character and portrayal are one of the few things that makes MIB3 worthwhile. Thankfully, Nicole Scherzinger appears only briefly and has very few lines.
The film has its share of comedic and cool sci-fi, creature stuff but nothing that really knocks you back. On a macro level, it has a clever and well-laid script, but once one dives in a little deeper it’s full of contrivances and logic-holes. Time travel is great, but it gets confusing fast and MIB3 breaks one too many of its own rules to really pull it off. 
[Lastly, and this isn’t much of a criticism but more a question, wasn’t it set up in the original that Men In Black agents don’t sleep? Why then is J shown playing video games in his apartment in front of a bed?]

Review: Men In Black 3

I’m not going to dwell on Men In Black 3, because for the most part it’s just adequate. It’s an enjoyable summertime flick that has all the elements, but never lives up to the full potential of the original. (Full disclosure: I have never seen MIB2, have heard it’s quite bad, and have no intention to see it.)

Will Smith is in top form, doing his thing. Since it’s been so long since his last comparable role (Hancock in 2008), this seems like a revelation. He’s quick, funny, charming — all that you’d expect from him in the 90s. Good to know he’s still got it. Josh Brolin embodies Tommy Lee Jones, which makes the transition between the two seamless. It’s a shame then that his backstory that is teased throughout isn’t that interesting.  Jemaine Clement is excellent as the villain (stroke of genius casting there), and is only out done by Michael Stuhlbarg who carries the heart of the movie on his shoulders and does a damn good job. His character and portrayal are one of the few things that makes MIB3 worthwhile. Thankfully, Nicole Scherzinger appears only briefly and has very few lines.

The film has its share of comedic and cool sci-fi, creature stuff but nothing that really knocks you back. On a macro level, it has a clever and well-laid script, but once one dives in a little deeper it’s full of contrivances and logic-holes. Time travel is great, but it gets confusing fast and MIB3 breaks one too many of its own rules to really pull it off. 

[Lastly, and this isn’t much of a criticism but more a question, wasn’t it set up in the original that Men In Black agents don’t sleep? Why then is J shown playing video games in his apartment in front of a bed?]

Review: The Dictator
Sacha Baron Cohen is not for everybody. His particular brand of humor aims to offend and at times can lean towards the juvenile. The Dictator has more than your average comedy’s worth of gross out gags and raunchy humor. It’s sure to turn off a lot of viewers. But it also has more than your average comedy’s worth of satire and, dare I say, intelligence to keep it afloat. 
Beat to beat The Dictator is an incredibly funny movie, proving that Cohen can craft a humorous character and universe without exploiting everyday simpletons. It’s a loose string of often-hilarious set pieces, 85% of which work to much comic effect. When you take a step back and examine The Dictator as a piece of storytelling things get a little more hairy (pun intended). The love story and many of the plot details are completely throw away, serve little purpose and barely make sense. Not that it matters though when the filler is as laugh-out-loud as much of this is. (Honorable mentions should be given to several running gags and the soundtrack.)
Larry Charles and Cohen managed to stick every funny person they could find into what turns out to be a large cast. Comedy fans will be delighted at the sheer number of cameos in almost every scene. Jason Mantzoukas though, steals the movie. His talents have gone unrecognized for too long and his turn here is top notch; you’d almost wish you could hear he and Cohen banter all day long. Their (what I’m assuming are) improvs are that funny. Anna Faris, on the other hand, is unremarkable and bland.
For all of its low brow humor, The Dictator feels fresh, relevant, and utterly satirical. Cohen chops and blends bits of current events and dictator-lore into a reflective persona that serves its over-the-top purpose. The underlying satire keeps it from dipping into Mike Meyers or Adam Sandler territory, while reminding us of Cohen’s past bites at society.
All of this reaches climax in a wondrously executed monologue where Cohen turns the Dictator’s mirror on the US and the image is just as ugly as it was on his TV show. Of course this is followed by a nonsensical, motivation-less ending. Because you can’t win ‘em all. 

Review: The Dictator

Sacha Baron Cohen is not for everybody. His particular brand of humor aims to offend and at times can lean towards the juvenile. The Dictator has more than your average comedy’s worth of gross out gags and raunchy humor. It’s sure to turn off a lot of viewers. But it also has more than your average comedy’s worth of satire and, dare I say, intelligence to keep it afloat. 

Beat to beat The Dictator is an incredibly funny movie, proving that Cohen can craft a humorous character and universe without exploiting everyday simpletons. It’s a loose string of often-hilarious set pieces, 85% of which work to much comic effect. When you take a step back and examine The Dictator as a piece of storytelling things get a little more hairy (pun intended). The love story and many of the plot details are completely throw away, serve little purpose and barely make sense. Not that it matters though when the filler is as laugh-out-loud as much of this is. (Honorable mentions should be given to several running gags and the soundtrack.)

Larry Charles and Cohen managed to stick every funny person they could find into what turns out to be a large cast. Comedy fans will be delighted at the sheer number of cameos in almost every scene. Jason Mantzoukas though, steals the movie. His talents have gone unrecognized for too long and his turn here is top notch; you’d almost wish you could hear he and Cohen banter all day long. Their (what I’m assuming are) improvs are that funny. Anna Faris, on the other hand, is unremarkable and bland.

For all of its low brow humor, The Dictator feels fresh, relevant, and utterly satirical. Cohen chops and blends bits of current events and dictator-lore into a reflective persona that serves its over-the-top purpose. The underlying satire keeps it from dipping into Mike Meyers or Adam Sandler territory, while reminding us of Cohen’s past bites at society.

All of this reaches climax in a wondrously executed monologue where Cohen turns the Dictator’s mirror on the US and the image is just as ugly as it was on his TV show. Of course this is followed by a nonsensical, motivation-less ending. Because you can’t win ‘em all. 

Summer Movie List 2012

It’s back! The 4th Annual PCB Summer Movie List!

With the release of The Avengers next weekend we’re officially entering summer blockbuster season. Keeping with tradition of the past three years, below are all of the summer movies I’m interested in seeing (subject to change based on buzz and reception). As this list is longer than it’s been in the past, chances are I won’t manage to see all of them. 

I do this mostly as a reference for myself, and like usual I’ll be crossing off the ones I’ve seen and linking to any reviews I write. Look for sporadic reblogs of this post throughout the summer to check in on my progress.

  • The Avengers - May 4
  • The Dictator - May 11
  • Men In Black 3 - May 25
  • Moonrise Kingdom - May 25
  • Piranha 3DD - June 1
  • Snow White and the Huntsman - June 1
  • Prometheus - June 8
  • Safety Not Guaranteed - June 8
  • Rock of Ages - June 15
  • That’s My Boy - June 15
  • Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter - June 22
  • Brave - June 22
  • Seeking a Friend for the End of the World - June 22
  • To Rome With Love - June 22
  • Magic Mike - June 29
  • People Like Us - June 29
  • The Amazing Spider-Man - July 3
  • Ted - July 13
  • The Dark Knight Rises - July 20
  • Neighborhood Watch - July 27
  • The Bourne Legacy - Aug 3
  • Total Recall - Aug 3
  • The Campaign - Aug 10
  • Premium Rush - Aug 24
entertainmentweekly:

This week in EW: It’s Avengin’ time! We did an exclusive Q&A with Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Evans and Mark Ruffalo; see video from our roundtable at PopWatch, and get the whole scoop in the magazine.

Have we reached Avengers-saturation point yet?

entertainmentweekly:

This week in EW: It’s Avengin’ time! We did an exclusive Q&A with Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Evans and Mark Ruffalo; see video from our roundtable at PopWatch, and get the whole scoop in the magazine.

Have we reached Avengers-saturation point yet?