Tag Archives: novel

Jack Reacher: Taking it back to the 80’s

Tom Cruise is JACK REACHER. Courtesy of Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions

Tom Cruise is JACK REACHER. Courtesy of Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions

Remember the good-old days when 80’s action movies were a barrel of fun and laughs? There were no concerns with winning awards or receiving critical acclaim. Instead, entertainment was the highest priority as is the case with Tom Cruise’s latest investigative action film, Jack Reacher.

Cruise plays a funny, smart-mouthed ex-army cop who comes out of hiding to track down a mass murderer.

Jack Reacher 4All of the 80’s clichés have been thoughtfully checked off by director Christopher McQuarrie (The Way of the Gun), who adapted Lee Child’s book, “One Shot”. There’s a wise-cracking detective, a sexy woman, clashing of personalities, a foreign bad guy with a heavy accent, and buckets of action. McQuarrie also was kind enough to keep any gore out of the movie’s action, so those with weak stomachs won’t have to bring their trusty barf bucket.

Jack Reacher 7The recently divorced Tom Cruise gives us nothing we haven’t seen before. Truth is, I love that character and so do you (don’t deny it). The person who deals out the best performance is Joseph Sikora, who made the biggest impact with less than five minutes of screen time.

JACK REACHERFive-time Academy Award nominated cinematographer Caleb Deschanel does an amazing job of lighting every scene to complement McQuarrie’s fantastic shooting style. There’s also some excellent audio design with the sound of firearms having incredible lifelike impact.

Jack Reacher 3Bottom Line: If you enjoy the older action flicks as much as I do, you’ll have a blast with this one.

Grade B-

Runtime: 130 minutes
3D: No

Jaws: Restoration adds beauty to the terror

Catch the fully restored Jaws at TIFF Bell Lightbox starting June 29th. Courtesy of Universal Pictures

It is said that a fear of sharks is primal in most human beings. With masterful direction and one of the greatest musical scores, Steven Spielberg’s original run of Jaws terrified audiences and induced unprecedented phobias among moviegoers. Thirty-seven years later, this classic horror has been given a much needed restoration from the original beaten up stock and the results are impeccable. Rather than explain it all to you, I’ll let the professionals give you the scoop in the video below.

Simply put, the restoration makes the movie look like a period film shot today. They’ve also avoided any George Lucas style digital “upgrades” to replace any of the practical effects. While present day audiences have been desensitized to brutal violence, Jaws still manages to wrap you in a blanket of fear. Not something many horrors of today will be able to claim 30 years in the future.

The only problem with this movie is the lack of knowledge about the behavior of sharks during its production. Peter Benchley, author of the novel the movie is based on, has mentioned he would have never written the book had he known about the real behavior of sharks. This is important for all those who treat the fictional film as a source of facts.

With that in mind, you’ll want to treat yourself to a magnificent example of filmmaking. The Hitchcockian influenced direction from Steven Spielberg is brilliant, as is the editing by Verna Fields and the performances from Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss.

Bottom Line: Jaws’ flawless face lift deserves to be revisited by every fan of great cinema.

You can find the restored re-release at TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto or in select local theatres on June 29th.

The Hunger Games: Riveting adaptation

Jennifer Lawrence stars as 'Katniss Everdeen' in THE HUNGER GAMES. Courtesy of Alliance Films Media

How many times has Hollywood butchered novels when adapting them into films? It’s fair to say countless times. The Hunger Games novel by Suzanne Collins has sold 800,000 copies around the world, making expectations for the movie adaptation climb to dizzying heights.

Collin’s story tells the tale of a future in which the Capitol of an oppressive North America selects a boy and a girl from each of the 12 districts to fight to the death in The Hunger Games tournament. We follow an anti-social, skilled archer, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) who takes the place of her younger sister when she is chosen to compete.

This is one of the first blockbuster adaptations in recent memory to be, not only faithful to the source material, but also a fantastic film.

The story gives the audience something to sink their teeth into, alongside characters to route for and against. It isn’t peddling to the masses by giving into the romantic aspect of the story. Instead, it allows a natural progression that feels organic and true to human nature.

Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone, X-Men: First Class) is one of Hollywood’s finest talents at the moment and she brings every bit of her acting arsenal to our heroine. Her empathetic performance shows incredible range and raised the level of acting from all around her. Her cast members, including Josh Hutcherson (The Kids Are All Right), Woody Harrelson (Zombieland), Elizabeth Banks (Man On A Ledge), Stanley Tucci (Captain America: The First Avenger), and Wes Bentley (Underworld: Awakening) all deliver the necessary goods in spades.

The one major criticism is in the direction. Gary Ross (Seabiscuit) did everything a director should do except competently shoot the action scenes. Even the simple things like walking quickly or moving through a crowd were riddled with shaky camera work. The actual battle royal was impossible to decipher with his extreme close-up, earthquake-worthy shooting style.

Regardless of this foible, this movie does everything Twilight should have done and will captivate both male and female audiences around the world.

Bottom Line: I’m already itching for the sequel!

Grade A-

Runtime: 142 minutes
3D: No