“Man of Steel” – 4 stars
Warner Bros. and DC Comics’ “Man of Steel” serves as the pilot for a star-studded superhero team-up series of films, introducing audiences to a Superman for the modern era. The film dealt with a hesitant son of two fathers from two worlds coming to terms with his dual identity and his frightening powers in an action-packed film with surprising humanity. Stellar performances by the cast, combined with solid directing by Zack Snyder, has set the stage perfectly for the introduction of other mainstay DC Comics superheroes in future films.
“World War Z” – 3 1/2 stars
The film borrows loosely from the acclaimed novel of the same name to portray the consequences of a zombie outbreak. The zombie genre has been bled nearly dry by Hollywood, and although “World War Z” can’t help but deliver a lot of the same things we’ve seen before, the film still provides a fairly entertaining experience. The action is tense, the pacing is on-point and the storyline is engaging. Coupled with great CGI, a strong performance by Brad Pitt and a sprinkling of political intrigue, “World War Z” is a solid summer blockbuster.
“The Lone Ranger” – 2 1/2 stars
I didn’t think the film was as unenjoyable and bad as some critics vehemently assert, but the film does have its flaws. Depp as Tonto wasn’t a terrible performance, but it is nearly identical in its delivery to Depp’s pirate, Jack Sparrow. The story plays well enough to move the characters along between the action set pieces, but the decision to make the Lone Ranger character have an overbearing aversion to gun use seemed distractingly out of place in a modern Western.
“Fruitvale Station” – 4 1/2 stars
The film provides a powerful look at the purportedly true story of Oscar Grant, a young man gunned down by a Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer on New Year’s Day. The film follows Grant (Michael B. Jordan) as he spends his last day of life coming to terms with his past wrongs and his desire to find a way to right them amid the chaos of his urban sprawl. The film is very moving in many ways and, a few editing and camera quirks aside, is a sleeper hit of the summer.
“Pacific Rim” – 3 stars
Director Guillermo del Toro’s ode to the monster movies of old is an entertaining, CGI-heavy sci-fi action film that delivers on concept but falls short on storytelling. The world created around the film is very interesting, but the resulting story that plays within it is predictable and bland. The characters are unimaginative stereotypes that seem to exist only to serve their all-too foreseeable purpose, but because their purpose is to use giant robots to wage epic battles against other-worldly monsters, it doesn’t really seem to matter.
As published in the Aug. 26, 2013 issue of the Pepperdine Graphic.
Follow Chirag Patel on Twitter: @cbpatel86