‘Lost’ achieves, ‘Spider’ entertains and ‘Counselor’ puts to sleep

Among the new movies that were released Friday, Oct. 25 at theaters throughout the Valley are a drama with only one on-screen actor and just a few lines of dialogue, a creature feature about a giant arachnid and an ensemble crime drama written by Cormac McCarthy.

All is Lost

Robert Redford plays a resourceful sailor who, after a collision with a shipping container at sea, finds himself – despite all efforts to the contrary – staring his mortality in the face. (PG-13 – 100 minutes)

There is no doubt that “All is Lost” is an incredible crowning achievement for both writer/director J.C. Chandor and star Robert Redford, who manage to make a movie with only one actor and just a handful of spoken dialogue an intense and even exhausting piece of entertainment. Moreover, it is a movie that effectively demonstrates that so long as one has a will to survive, their ingenuity and resilience is limitless. However, while the minimalist approach is definitely admirable, it leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to backstory, which is an essential element in earning an emotion reaction. (Thumbs Up!)

Big Ass Spider!

Greg Grunberg and Lombardo Boyar play an exterminator and a security guard, respectively, who are unlikely heroes trying to stop a towering mutant arachnid from rampaging across Los Angeles. (PG-13 – 85 minutes)

Save for the nonsense that for some strange reason passes for entertainment on the SyFy Channel, creature features are few and far between nowadays – especially the kind that include recognizable actors and halfway believable visual effects. Therefore, that makes the arrival of a movie like “Big Ass Spider!” that much more exciting when it comes crawling along on eight huge hairy legs. Director Mike Mendez’s new thriller may not send shivers down your spine as well as the genre’s classic efforts did but it will definitely tickle your funny bone as it spins a web of wild amusement. (Thumbs Up!)

The Counselor

Michael Fassbender plays a respected lawyer whose one-time dalliance with an illegal business deal spirals out of control. Other stars include Penélope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem and Brad Pitt. (R – 117 minutes)

“The Counselor” has got its high-points – like when Cameron Diaz gets a car’s (and its occupant Javier Bardem’s) motor running and when one of its actors is killed in a particularly horrifying fashion – but they are few and far between what is an otherwise boring, babbling and batty motion picture. Ridley Scott directs from a screenplay penned by Cormac McCarthy and the result bears absolutely no resemblance to the author’s “No Country for Old Men.” It barely even makes any sense much less provides any entertainment value – aside from those aforementioned high-points, which are less amusing than they are appalling. (Thumbs Down!)

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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