MEEK AT THE MOVIES : “Locke” ( 3 STARS )

Tom Hardy shines in Steven Knight’s “Locke.”

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1 Tom Hardy

^ driving himself driven : Tom Hardy as Locke

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A man driving around in his car might not make for much of a movie, not unless he’s got a phalanx of baddies armed with uzis blasting away on his ass. That’s not the case in “Locke,” and thankfully so. What “Locke” has going for it is high stakes and Tom Hardy, the actor who has done everything from the violently outlandish “Bronson” to “Tinker Tailor, Soldier Spy” and even played a malevolent cage fighter in “Warrior,” not to mention those small films he did with Christopher Nolan : “Inception” and his indelible turn as Bane in “The Dark Knight Rises.” Hardy’s range and versatility has him on his way to becoming the bonafide A list name from the UK that Jude Law never quite got to. If there was any question, “Locke” cinches it.

The premise is…

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MEEK AT THE MOVIES : Draft Day —- 2 STARS

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^ not much of a draft picker : Kevin Costner as NFL GM Sonny weaver, Jr (with Jennifer Garner) in Ivan Reitman’s “Draft day”

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Here’s something new : Kevin Costner back in a sports movie. Ok, maybe not new, but this time it’s football and not baseball, and he’s traded his cleats for a front office job. “Draft Day” is supposed to be a funny quirky race against the clock, cum romance, like “Jerry Maguire,” but it’s no all that funny. Costner does his job channeling his signatures : assured nonchalance as Sonny Weaver Jr., general manager of the Cleveland Browns.

The film starts off on the morning of the big titular day with Sonny going back and forth with his girlfriend Ali (Jennifer Garner) about who he might pick, and of course she has some big news to tell him, but his phone keeps ringing. Cleveland…

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MEEK AT THE MOVIES : “AFTER EARTH” FAILS THE TEST — 1 STAR

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Sure, I like Will Smith. I do. Still, I can’t say I am liking his choice of films as of late. Sure, the upcoming “Winter Tale” has a ton of fire power to it, but purportedly, Mr. Smith turned down the role of Django because he felt the role wasn’t a lead. Then there’s that rumored remake of “The Wild Bunch” that has the Peckinpah faithful hearing fingernails on the chalkboard. Now comes this ill-advised project with M. Night Shyamalan, who’s made exactly one quality film, a few intriguing follow ups and done a disastrous slide ever since.
If you’re wondering why the actor, who holds an obvious penchant for sci-fi, would jump into water with a man on his last breath, the answer is likely “his son.” “After Earth” is not a Will Smith movie but a Jaden Smith movie. The young thespian held his own with Dad in…

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MEEK AT THE MOVIES : THIS IS THE END (rating : 3 ***)

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“This is the End” may be the most meta-vanity project ever to come out of Hollywood, where things meta usually don’t fly unless Charlie Kaufman is involved. The film co-written and co-directed by Seth Rogen has Rogen playing Seth Rogen — the asshole extrapolation of himself.  James Franco, Jay Baruchel, Craig Robinson, Jonah Hill and Danny McBride all do the same. Baruchel is the one out of towner visiting Rogen in Los Angeles. Baruchel despises LA and just wants to hangout and smoke weed and watch 3D TV, but Rogen pries him off the couch and drags him to a house party at Franco’s manse.
Pot humor and pop up party guests like Rihanna keep the slow moving premise (Baruchel also hates Hill and is a bit of whining wet noodle to boot) alive, though there are nuggets of WTF humor that snap you out of the stupor :…

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MEEK AT THE MOVIES : WORLD WAR Z ( Rating : 2 1/2 stars )

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Zombie apocalypse and anything vampire seems to be the hot ticket out of Hollywood these days. The subtext, that we prey on each other and that life is a precious and fragile thing, is a piquant notion that gets magnified to its fullest when examining how man comports himself as civilization crumbles.
Sans rules and with limited resources, what would you do? Snatch and grab, help out or hole up doomsday prepper style?
That’s the special sauce that makes any apocalypse-cum-horror flick grip the road. Real people, super natural horror, deep shit. George Romero’s seminal “Night of the Living Dead” was more about the dynamics and dissent amongst a band of survivors barricaded in a farm house than it was about the throng of shambling flesh scratching at the walls. Decades later, guys like Danny Boyle (“28 Days Later”) and Zack Snyder (the 2004 remake of Romero’s “Dawn of the…

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MEEK AT THE MOVIES : MAN OF STEEL ( Rating 2 ** )

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Zach Snyder’s always been big on bluster and pizazz but a bit lacking when it comes to the essentials of storytelling. Take “300” or “Sucker Punch,” which made for titillating trailers set to edgy, esoteric rock (Nine Inch Nails’ “Just as you Imagined” layered on clips of the Spartans battling Xerxes in “300” may be the greatest music video/movie trailer of all time); but when it came to holding an audience’s attention for 90 minutes, only fanboys and cultists who dug Gerard Butler’s CGI-enhanced abs and righteous barking, or Babydoll and her bustier-wearing ilk beating down misogynistic ogres, could go the distance – because that was all there was: alluring visuals and sound bites, sans the bite.

One major early steppingstone was his 2004 remake of George Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead,” which featured an eclectic cast (Ving Rhames and Sarah Polley) and zombies that could run at full tilt…

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MEEK AT THE MOVIES : THE HEAT ( 2 1/2 **)

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“The Heat” is funnier than it should be. Part of that’s because director Paul Feig has a way of taking flimsy ideas and strong comedic actors and creating lightning in a bottle. He did it with Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig in “Bridesmaids” and does so again here. If there’s any doubt that it’s more the actors than Feig, I’ll simply point to McCarthy’s recent woeful outing in “Identity Theft.” It’s not so much what he does with the material but the chemistry he educes between his stars and how they build something infectious from thin setups.
The premise behind “The Heat,” which was shot in in our glorious city of Boston — though it doesn’t look so much like the Boston that you and I know — is pretty much the same old comedic cop-buddy story that was popularized by Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte in “48hrs,” and, later…

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