Movie Review: “Zoolander 2″

Starring
Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Penelope Cruz, Will Ferrell, Kristen Wiig
Director
Ben Stiller

Comedy sequels are tough. One of the few good recent examples, “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues,” managed to keep the characters fresh, which is the key to a successful comedy sequel. But 15 years after the first “Zoolander,” is there still an appetite for these lovably dumb male models? And are they still even lovably dumb? In this sequel, once again directed by Ben Stiller, they are not.

The original film was a silly comedy that played on the conventions of conspiracy thrillers like “The Manchurian Candidate,” and it earned its status as a cult classic. “Zoolander” has aged well and isn’t going away anytime soon, but it’s unlikely that “Zoolander 2” will grow on audiences in the same way.

The sequel continues to play with the trappings of a conspiracy thriller. In the opening minutes, Justin Bieber is assassinated, setting up a “Da Vinci Code”-esque adventure that forces Derek (Stiller) and Hansel (Owen Wilson) to come out of retirement. The two went through a traumatic experience together shortly after the events of the first film. They haven’t spoken since the accident, but that all changes when they’re invited by incomprehensible fashion god Alexanya Atoz (Kristen Wiig) to participate in one of her shows. Once they get to the show, however, they’re treated like jokes. They are no longer the men they used to be, and all Derek wants is to prove to Child Services that he’s fit to raise his son.

The opening setpiece involving Bieber on the run is well done, and further proof of Stiller’s skills as a director. Few comedic directors make movies as cinematic as Stiller. The laughs aren’t always there, as is the case with “Zoolander 2,” but looking at earlier films like “The Cable Guy” and “Tropic Thunder,” he’s capable of matching the styles of the movies he’s emulating and poking fun at. At times, “Zoolander 2” is as flashy as the glossy mysteries it’s riffing on.

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10 Under-appreciated Roles from Johnny Depp

Unfortunately, the new “Dark Shadows” film is terrible, but Johnny Depp shines as usual.

And then, there but for the grace of God, is Johnny Depp, who commits to the role of Barnabas in a way that redefines Method acting. He had to know before they had finished shooting that “Dark Shadows” wasn’t working, but Depp refuses to give in to the material’s inherently campy nature and plays Barnabas bone-straight and dead serious from beginning to end.

It’s too bad Depp’s talents are wasted here, but there are plenty of old gems you can rent or stream to appreciate his talent. Several years ago we listed 10 under-appreciated roles from Depp. One of my favorites was “Blow.”

It would take a hell of a film to wrest away the title of “Best Use of Cocaine in a Motion Picture” from “Scarface.” Frankly, “Blow” – Ted Demme’s final directorial effort – isn’t that film. But while it may not offer any lines as instantly memorable as “say hello to my little friend,” it is a well-made drama that flows along nicely, finding Depp wearing a variety of wigs as he plays real-like cocaine smuggler George Jung over the course of several years and hairstyles. The supporting cast is also particularly strong, with Ray Liotta and Emma Griffiths portraying Jung’s parents, Penelope Cruz and Franka Potente as his love interests, and Ethan Suplee, Paul Reubens and Bobcat Goldthwait turning up as some of Jung’s associates (i.e., fellow dealers). What keeps the film from standing alongside its higher-profile coke-centric brethren, however, is that, as Jung, Depp comes across as pretty lethargic. Maybe that’s what the real Jung was actually like (given Depp’s tendency to lose himself in his roles, we’re willing to bet that it was), but the end result is a film with a character who manages to experience countless outrageous moments in his lifetime without coming across as all that exciting himself.

So don’t bother with “Dark Shadows.” Check out this list and rent a much better film.

  

10 of the sexiest movie posters of all-time

sexiest_movie_posters

The end of the decade brought a flurry of movie-themed features about cinema in the new millennium. We here at Bullz-Eye even tossed our hat into the ring, and one of the lists I submitted was of my favorite movie posters from the last ten years. One particular selection (a teaser poster for “Good Luck Chuck” featuring Jessica Alba holding a melting ice cream cone) was commented on by just about everyone on staff, so in keeping with the spirit of the incredibly sexy one-sheet, I decided to put together a list of some of the sexiest movie posters of all-time. Censorship may have played a big role in movies since their inception, but that hasn’t stopped studios from using sex to sell, and we can all agree that there’s nothing particularly censored about this sultry collection of posters.

the_sin_of_nora_moranlolita

“The Sin of Nora Moran” (1933)

Movie studios used to rely on painted images of their feminine stars to promote a film (just about every Marilyn Monroe and Brigitte Bardot vehicle had one), but of the hundreds of sexy poses to choose from, this poster for “The Sin of Nora Moran” is the cream of the crop. You may not be too familiar with its star, Zita Johann (whose biggest claim to fame is co-starring alongside Boris Karloff in the 1932 version of “The Mummy”), but between the virtually see-thru dress that she’s wearing and the manner that her body is positioned, it’ll certainly make you wish you were.

“Lo*li*ta” (1962)

Putting aside the somewhat pedophilic nature of the story, Stanley Kubrick’s “Lo*li*ta” has one of the most alluring posters around. Though Sue Lyon was only 16 when she made the film (and playing a 14-year-old at that), the slightly blurred photo of her wearing those famous heart-shaped glasses while she innocently/playfully sucks on a red lollipop has remained one of the most iconic images of the last 50 years. Lyon never did look her age, but that doesn’t make you feel any less guilty for staring; something Kubrick no doubt intended with this beautifully composed shot.

the_graduatedracula_has_risen_from_the_grave

“The Graduate” (1967)

An American classic. Anne Bancroft doesn’t even appear in the poster except for her outstretched leg, but then again, that’s the point. The mystery behind the image (which has been spiced up in this 30th anniversary version with Dustin Hoffman’s famous quote) is sexy exactly because you want to see more but can’t. Whoever was responsible for this poster is a genius, because it tells you everything you need to know about Mike Nichols’ cult classic without really saying anything at all.

“Dracula Has Risen From the Grave” (1968)

Apart from its hilariously candid title (I love the inclusion of the parenthesized “obviously” just below), this Hammer-produced Christopher Lee flick isn’t quite as tongue-in-cheek as its poster indicates. Still, you have to admire the mix of sex and humor in this photo. It looks absolutely gorgeous in black-and-white, and despite just barely featuring the woman’s open mouth and heaving breasts on the top and bottom borders (thus drawing even more attention to them), your eyes go straight to her neck. It’s all accomplished with a little splash of color in the form of two pink band-aids covering a vampire bite mark, and while it might not sound like much, it’s the highlight of what’s since become one of my favorite posters.

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