A revenge mission doesn’t play well when you don’t care about who’s avenging what and why.
Christian Bale and Casey Affleck lead as the Baze brothers. Bale’s Russell is the older of the two and does his best to sustain a standup lifestyle, dedicated to his job at the local steel mill, his girlfriend Lena (Zoe Saldana), and his family. Affleck’s Rodney, on the other hand, opts to enlist in the army in hopes of finding something to live for outside of Braddock, Pennsylvania. However, after four tours in Iraq and only mental and physical scars to show for it, Rodney winds up back home competing as a bare-knuckle boxer to payoff his debts. When Rodney doesn’t return from a fight in Harlan DeGroat’s (Woody Harrelson) territory, Russell takes it upon himself to head up into the notorious Ramapo Mountains and bring his brother home.
Rather than kick things off by strolling through everyday life in Braddock, “Out of the Furnace” runs with a bleaker introduction, showing off the wrath of its antagonist. The choice to screen “Midnight Meat Train” is a little distracting, but the drive-in movie location is a novel and dynamic setting, that adds an extra layer to Harlan’s tantrum via bystanders’ reactions. Harlan’s behavior is vicious to the point of being disconcerting, but it does function as a highly effective opening hook.
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It ain’t easy making a stop-motion animated feature. “ParaNorman” clocks in at 96 minutes. The best weeks of production for the “ParaNorman” team resulted in two minutes of footage. You only need to do some really simple math to figure out how big of an undertaking it is to make a stop-motion animation film and you only need to see the final product to know that in the case of “ParaNorman,” the work was well worth it.
On top of having to deal with bullies and typical pre-teen troubles, Norman (voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee) also talks to the dead and the whole town knows it. Cool, right? Well, maybe if they actually believed he really was talking to the dead and not just out of his mind. When Norman’s Uncle Prenderghast (John Goodman) passes away, Norman’s the only one left who can talk to the dead and, therefore, is the only one capable of keeping the witch’s curse at bay.
In honor of the film’s August 17th release, director Sam Fell and writer-director Chris Butler sat down to run through the whole process from the pieces of Butler’s own childhood that influenced the story to the attention to detail that goes into creating even the tiniest prop, the use of 3D printers and more. Check it all out for yourself in the video interview below and be sure to catch “ParaNorman” in theaters this weekend.
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As a sucker for animated movies and horror films, hopes were high for “ParaNorman.” While the experience was primarily satisfying, those with a pension for horror suspecting this might bear a creep factor similar to “Coraline” beware; “ParaNorman” does boast downright incredible visuals, an engaging plot, charming characters and more, but it’s also quite juvenile.
Norman (voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee) isn’t the most popular kid at school. It isn’t because he’s a nerd, isn’t a jock or even because he’s in a lame school club; Norman’s an outcast because he talks to the dead. While many folks pass away and make a B-line to the other side, those with unfinished business, like Norman’s grandmother (Elaine Stritch), hang around.
When Norman starts to have even stranger otherworldly visions, he comes to learn that it’s because the anniversary of the witch’s death is on the horizon. His uncle Prenderghast (John Goodman) tells him that if someone doesn’t go to her grave and read from a particular book, the curse will come true. With the help of his sister Courtney (Anna Kendrick), buddy Neil (Tucker Albrizzi), Neil’s big brother Mitch (Casey Affleck), and Norman’s schoolyard nemesis Alvin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), Norman sets out to send a group of zombies back to their graves and put an end to this 300 year old curse for good.
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Sometimes formulaic filmmaking isn’t all that bad, especially in the case of a film with an outlandish plot like Tower Heist. It basically plays out as you’d expect with a few good gags along the way and some bumbling attempts to snag the cash, but if you’re simply looking for an enjoyable hour and 45 minutes, what else do you need? There’s certainly nothing too deep about this one, but courtesy of colorful characters, some solid laughs and a festive Thanksgiving backdrop, Tower Heist makes for a pretty entertaining film.
It’s just another day at The Tower in New York City, the staff hard at work doing everything in their power to accommodate the residents, as building manager Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller) believes they don’t just pay millions for their apartments, but for top-notch service, too. Josh knows every detail about everyone at The Tower, but he’s got a particularly close relationship with the man in the penthouse apartment, the wealthiest of them all, Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda). When the two aren’t playing digital chess together, Shaw is busy making millions through his investments. However, when his empire comes crumbling down, Shaw winds up taking the entire staff of The Tower with him as he manages their pensions.
Unable to bear watching his co-workers’ lives collapse, Josh takes it upon himself to get their money back – and then some. He hatches a plan to rob Shaw of his supposed safety net, roughly $20 million Josh suspects he keeps in a safe in his apartment. He recruits the concierge Charlie (Casey Affleck), the newly hired elevator operator Enrique (Michael Peña) and the recently evicted Mr. Fitzhugh (Matthew Broderick) to assist him with his plan, but, even with the know-how they have to offer, it isn’t enough. They need a real crook. In comes Eddie Murphy as Slide, Josh’s trash-talking neighbor with a criminal past. Together, with ski caps on and empty wallets in hand, they’ll sneak into Shaw’s apartment, crack the safe and give the swindler what he deserves.
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