If there's one thing to applaud about this exceedingly violent and uneven arthouse-wannabe thriller, it's that Helen Mirren and Cuba Gooding Jr. get totally freak-deaky. The bad news: There's only one thing to applaud about this movie.
It's hard to watch a celebrated filmmaker slowly crumble, but Woody Allen's slide into mediocrity has been going on for so long now it's a wonder he still finds financing. Over the last 16 years the director has made 19 films and, arguably, only four or five are worth the celluloid they're printed on. Most have been slapdash flights of whimsy, barely amusing murder mysteries or tiresome misanthropic tirades. It's pretty clear the director has nothing left to say. Even last year's overpraised drama Match Point was a sleek regurgitation of themes he's already explored. Equally disheartening is his unique ability to squander the formidable talents of well-known actors and cinematographers for throwaway crap like Scoop.
Corny this movie is, yes, but blame them you cannot. What do you expect from a film about the bodhisattva of gymnastics? Peaceful Warrior is based on gymnast Millman's book about his own life; here he's played by relative newcomer Scott Mechlowicz, and the venerable Nick Nolte is Socrates, the wise, mysterious mentor who taught him to blend Eastern mysticism and Western training to become a top gymnast. The film does not, however, portend to show the sweat, blood and grit that go into nailing the perfect pommel horse routine. Its purpose is more to offer a light intro to Buddhism, a primer on Eastern philosophy dumbed down for American appetites in the form of a feel-good summer movie.
Hard as it is to fathom today, for a brief, shining moment soccer was the height of chic in New York City in the 1970s. The New York Cosmos soccer team packed crowds of more than 77,000 into Giants Stadium and kick-started a veritable footie boom. But the buzz was fleeting, lasting only a few years before the entire North American Soccer League collapsed in the mid-'80s due to mismanagement and waning public interest. This rollicking sports doc examines the Cosmos' unlikely rise to fame and their inevitable crash and burn.
Conservative wingnuts are going to have a stroke over the latest addition to this summer's computer-animated kidfest. It's only a matter of time before the Neil Cavutos and Debbie Schlussels of the world accuse Hollywood of brainwashing our unsuspecting tots with a celluloid version of The Communist Manifesto. Writer-director John A. Davis based the film on John Nickle's children's book, the story of a lonely little boy named Lucas who finds himself the target of neighborhood bullies. Humiliated for the umpteenth time, he does what countless other small boys have done and torments something smaller than himself; namely, the ants in his backyard. Weary of his devastating attacks, the ant colony's chief wizard, Zoc (Nicolas Cage), concocts a plan to shrink "The Destroyer" and make him stand trial.
The whores of Hollywood have cannibalized almost every innovative TV-series concept in their desperate experiments to produce box office magic. What took so long to get around to Miami Vice? The obvious assumption is that Universal and writer-director-producer Michael Mann, the prime movers behind the '80s television landmark, simply were waiting for the right combination of actors and script. Well, that can't be true. Otherwise, they'd still be waiting. The film version offers sporadic action without excitement, sex without sexiness and a pair of leading men who are content to strike GQ poses without much to say.