Captain America actor Chris Evans takes time off from saving the free world to ride around on a perpetually-moving train through a Dystopian wasteland. The movie calls on topical questions like climate change, the disappearing middle class and the haves versus the have-nots. But it also calls on lots of kickass fight sequences and cool shots of a bullet train blasting through mountains of ice. This is South Korean director Joon-ho Bong’s American debut, and he was able to bring in quite the cast as a rookie. Jamie Bell, Tilda Swinton, John Hurt and Ed Harris come along with Evans to create tense scenes, overflowing with not only political undertones but big performances. This film aims to make a point, and it pierces that point about as subtle as a hammer hitting an ice cube. Its lack of subtlety doesn’t make it any less impactful – worth a watch.
“Life After Beth”
For some reason, zombies are still all the rage. Like all phases, there are experiments and parodies. It’s no surprise we’ve seen zombie comedies and zombie love stories. Well, here’s another one. This time, debut writer/director Jeff Baena takes an almost art-house approach at a zomedy or zom-com, if you will. If that sounds like a bit of a mess, it sort of is. Baena brings in a great cast by combing young talent, Aubrey Plaza (“Parks and Recreation”) and Dane DeHaan (“The Amazing Spider-Man 2”), with seasoned comic actors John C. Reilly, Molly Shannon, Cheryl Hines and Paul Reiser. Anna Kendrick is even brought in to add a cute factor. The film does have moments, but overall, it feels uneven. Plaza and Reilly do their best to keep this light, but DeHaan’s performance is just too heavy to keep this one alive – pass.
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As the credits roll on this Australian import, bleak is the first word that comes to mind. Set ten years after a global economic fallout, director David Michod (“Animal Kingdom”) makes the Australian Outback look even more desolate than it already is. This film doesn’t get into the specifics of anything. All we know is that the world is shitty. Instead, Michod focuses on two men trying to survive. One of the men is a badass who just wants to recover his stolen car, played expertly by Guy Pearce. The other man is the dim-witted brother of one of the thieves, played not-so expertly by Robert Pattinson. The two move through the dust and grit of scenes where humanity barely hangs on by a thread. Pattinson doesn’t act poorly enough to mess anything up, but Pearce really puts this movie on his back and carries it. His roving performance shows his power as an actor – worth a watch.
Derrick Bracey, for Weekly Surge