‘The Collection’ engrosses, ‘Lay the Favorite’ craps out in theaters

Among the new movies that I reviewed during the Dec. 6, 2012, edition of “Breakthrough Thinking: The Magazine,” horrorholics and action-junkies alike would do best to put their money down for “The Collection” while those seeking something a bit tamer – not to mention inspiring – might prefer “Waiting for Lightning.” However, do not be drawn in by “Lay the Favorite’s” stellar cast. It is just not worth the gamble.

‘The Collection’

Josh Stewart plays a man who, having escaped the vicious grips of a serial killer, is blackmailed to rescue an innocent girl (Emma Fitzpatrick) from a booby-trapped warehouse. (R – 81 minutes)

“The Collection” sucks you in, chews you into a bloody pulp and then spits you out with complete abandon. In other words, it is – without a doubt – the best horror movie of 2012. Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton’s sequel to 2009’s “The Collector” is much more massive (not to mention messy) than its tightly contained predecessor. In fact, you have not likely ever seen a film that is this gritty, gruesome and ruthlessly gripping. The level of energy and the extent of its depravity make for one hell of an entertaining roller-coaster ride. Hold on to your guts, indeed. (Grade: A)

‘Lay the Favorite’*

Rebecca Hall plays a Las Vegas cocktail waitress who falls in with a sports gambler (Bruce Willis) who swoons for her as she proves to be something of a gambling prodigy, earning the initial ire of his wife (Catherine Zeta Jones). (R – 94 minutes)

After having seen “Lay the Favorite,” the question that will most likely come to your mind might be, “How in the world did so many talented actors become involved in such a tedious, obnoxious and unfunny comedy?” The most logical answer is that somebody must have lost a bet. The new motion picture – an adaptation of Beth Raymer’s memoir – from director Stephen Frears is a largely lifeless affair. The worst thing about it, though, is the performance given by actress Rebecca Hall, who appears to be aiming for an impersonation of Kathryn Heigl doing an impression of Minnie Mouse. (Grade: D)

*Playing exclusively at Harkins Shea 14.

‘Waiting for Lightning’*

Filmmaker Jacob Rosenberg tells the story of Danny Way, a young man whose dream was to jump China’s Great Wall on a skateboard. In his quest for greatness, Way continues to shape the very sport which helped save his own life. (PG-13 – 80 minutes)

Anytime a filmmaker decides to focus on a single human being for a documentary – especially when said human being is a celebrity or, in the case of “Waiting for Lightning,” a sports star, the result can come across as somewhat isolating in that it will appeal primarily to people who are fans of or at least familiar with that individual. Jacob Rosenberg begins to break away at that seemingly inevitable outcome with his look at skateboarder Danny Way’s life by giving it to us in a way that is universally uplifting. The uninitiated are likely to still get a bit restless, though. (Grade: C)

*Playing exclusively at Harkins Valley Art.

Joseph J. Airdo

Joseph J. Airdo is a film critic, producer and on-air personality for Breakthrough Entertainment, a talk radio show airing 10-11 a.m. Saturdays on KPHX 1480 AM and BreakRadioShow.com that shines a spotlight on the practical perspectives of the topics and themes explored in movies. He has a pet duck named Frozen who is as opinionated about movies as he is. E-mail him at joseph.airdo@gmail.com.

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