Movie reviews

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You’ll know in the first ten minutes if Blunt Force Trauma is for you. You must accept an alternate reality in which people don bulletproof vests and quick draw to try to knock each other backwards with the impact of the bullets. They do it as an underground sport. There isn’t even a name for it. But it’s totally a thing. The contestants, each with his prized pistol, travel the world looking for matches, eyeing each other suspiciously as they wait in bars and parking lots. Fight clubs with bullets instead of punches.

This is why Ryan Kwanten and Freida Pinto, both supercrazyhot, tool around picturesque Columbia in a bright red muscle car. Pinto pulls her hair back to get ready to shoot, but it’s mostly to show us the tattoo of something on her neck. What is it? I think a scorpion or something. It doesn’t matter. It’s a tattoo on her neck. She also smokes a lot of cigarettes. Her name is Colt. It’s all in the service of selling her as a tough gunfighter chick. Sure, I’ll buy. Kwanten broods prettily a lot. He has rubberbands around the grip of his pistol to show it’s worn, which means he’s travelled long and far. Yet he still has time to sculpt those abs. Implausible? Too late. You’ve already accepted that the sport/gunfight contest is actually a thing. Might as well just go with it.

Director Ken Sanzel takes it all very seriously. He uses entire songs by an indie folk rock group called Kid Dakota. And believe it or not, it all works. By the time the movie arrives at Mickey Rourke, all botoxed and looking bored out of his skull, the dialogue is as silly as Rourke’s oddly colorful boots. But by this time, I hope you’ve learned to trust Sanzel. He knows what he’s doing.

Blunt Force Trauma is available on VOD. Support Qt3 and watch it on

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I can’t quite tell if The Visit knows how ridiculous it is. M. Night Shyamalan’s latest movie, which doesn’t tap into our fear of old people so much as our vague disgust toward them, is about kids visiting their grandparents. It may be funny, but it’s not played for laughs. The real question is whether The Visit is in on the joke.

It’s disappointing that Shyamalan doesn’t show any sign of the guy who directed the stylish and effective scenes in Signs, such as the birthday party video, the dark basement, or the knife reflection under the door. At least he doesn’t show any signs of the guy who let Signs get knocked over by a wildly swinging baseball bat or the utterly tone deaf day laborer who directed After Earth. Time was he showed a lot of promise as a filmmaker in search of a script that wasn’t ridiculous. But with The Visit, rather than trusting the inherent creepiness or latent absurdity of his own script, he leans on some of the worst tropes of contemporary bad horror: found footage, jump scares, cell phones that don’t work, long stretches of filler featuring annoying young actors, gross-outs worthy of the Farrelly brothers.

What ultimately salvages The Visit is something too few horror movies achieve: a satisfying resolution. Say what you will about The Visit, at least all that weirdness is adequately explained in the end.

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When Rainn Wilson quips “nap time, motherfuckers” before killing a bunch of zombies, I think he was talking to the scriptwriters, who couldn’t be bothered to come up with a single interesting moment, joke, or concept for Cooties beyond its promising premise. Which is “what if there was an R-rated zombie movie in which the zombies are all kids?” After writing that on the page, the scriptwriters apparently lapsed into a nap, because nothing further is done with that premise. Hence this turgid, cheap, under-written, and over-cast exercise in by-the-numbers straight-to-VOD zomcomedy. I guess we have Simon Pegg to blame. I remember when zomcomedies were written and directed by Dan O’Bannon.

The cast deserves better. What a waste of Alison Pill, who demonstrated fiendishly comedic chops in Snowpiercer. What a waste of Nasim Pedrad, who has elevated a lot of weak writing on Saturday Night Live. And poor Leigh Whannell, who along with James Wan founded the Saw series. Oh, wait, Leigh Whannel is the scriptwriter, along with Glee co-creator Ian Brennan. At least they gave themselves a couple of the best parts. Cooties is especially a waste of Rainn Wilson, who gamely plays yet another bloviating clown. I cannot recommend enough his performance in the uneven but wonderfully odd indie horror movie The Boy (watch it here). Cooties, on the other hand, should be avoided like the plague.

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If there’s one thing The Gift gives, it’s a further awareness that Jason Bateman should be playing serious roles. You might know that from movies like Disconnect and especially Bad Words, but you probably didn’t see those. You were probably seeing This Is Where I Leave You and Identity Thief. Nice work. See what you’ve done? It took us this long to get a scene like the one we get near the end of The Gift. This is the most smirkless he’s ever been and it suits him.

Otherwise, The Gift is a mostly forgettable thriller, written and directed by Joel Edgerton. It also stars him as the “is he a psycho or isn’t he a psycho?” guy, who unfortunately bears an uncanny resemblance to Conan O’Brien. If you have nightmares about being stalked by an awkward late night talk show host, this is the movie to freak you out. Rebecca Hall is the stalwart female core of the movie, left home alone during the day in a fishbowl house. The awesome Allison Tolman lives next door, but only to help out with a couple of thankless exposition scenes.

The Gift’s wind-up is strong, and it unspools a delicious cruel streak. But the longer it plays out, the more trying it becomes. Ultimately, a thriller needs to both earn and exploit its twists. The Gift does neither. The twists we can see coming are obvious and simple. The ones we can’t are hastily dropped, as if the movie had surreptitiously picked them up and was examining them while it didn’t know we were in the room, so it quickly puts them down and hopes we didn’t notice. Even the finale is timid. If I were feeling charitable, I could call it ambiguous. Instead, the resolution just gets sort of blurry and indistinct and finally fades out, just like the final shot.

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Director Craig Zobel’s previous movie, Compliance, was based on actual events in which a prank caller persuaded employees at a fast food restaurant to strip search and rape a young girl. Zobel’s take on the events wasn’t lurid. Instead, he told a story about human weakness that focused not on the victim, but on the woman who let it happen, who was equal parts perpetrator and victim. So Zobel’s take on Z for Zachariah is no surprise. The book it’s adapted from is a post-apocalyptic power play between a teenage girl and a domineering scientist for control of an unspoiled valley in a radioactive wasteland. But this movie isn’t that.

Zobel and screenwriter Nissar Modi propose a different kind of relationship between an awkward young girl and the scientist who stumbles across her farm. They propose a love story. And, like Compliance, it is ultimately about human weakness. But since we’re in a post-apocalypse, the stakes for human weakness are so much higher. When the last man on Earth does something cruel or petty, so goes all of mankind. It’s heartbreaking to see Chiwetel Ejiofor’s coolly competent character in a controlled burn from fatherly engineer/savior of humanity to resentful drunk to jealous boyfriend to his hands clasped in prayer, penance, or entreaty in the final scene. The actor guides his character along its arc with astonishing conviction. In one scene, he whispers. He probably doesn’t need to. But he does. It’s a startling but effective choice for how it carries power, urgency, need, frustration. What a fantastic actor. Can we just give him an Oscar, already? It’s only a matter of time.

And while we’re at it, let’s go ahead and confirm what we suspected after Margot Robbie held her own opposite Leonardo DiCaprio’s flashy excess in Wolf of Wall Street: she is no mere Aussie ingenue. In Z for Zachariah, she positively glows as an awkward girl unaware how beautiful she is. Her earth-toned hair is wispy, her skin is lightly brushed with acne and sunburn, she claps an unflattering baseball cap on top of her head, and she affects a husky West Virginia twang. But like the valley she cultivates, she is radiant with life and simple beauty. Her scenes here are sexier than anything Wolf of Wall Street accomplished with a short pink dress. Those were the 90s. This is womankind.

And since there are no zombies to serve as a convenient metaphor, Z for Zachariah can’t play out like the usual power fantasy in which you get to shoot guns out the window of your cherry red Shelby GT500 Mustang on the weed-kissed streets of Manhattan. Zobel’s post-apocalypse is the battleground for a subdued power play between religion and science, love and happiness, youth and wisdom, survival and morality, progress and remembrance. It deftly touches these themes without ponderously unpacking them and holding them up to the camera. They are fleeting subtext. They are the answer to how a church organ ends up in a dark workshop at the back of a barn. Z for Zachariah is a quietly devastating portrait of the apocalypse, not because of what we’ve lost, but because of what we still are.

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When Eli Roth makes horror movies about foreigners, he suggests they will kidnap, torture, and eat you. Which is scary and all, but why invent scary things that happen in foreign countries when plenty of scary stuff actually happens? That’s what brothers John and Drew Dowdle have done with No Escape. The Dowdles cut their teeth on a creepy mockumentary called Poughkeepsie Tapes and then went on to do far more with the [REC] movies than the guys who actually made the [REC] movies. Their English-languge remake, Quarantine, and especially the clever follow-up, Quarantine 2: Terminal, are a marked contrast to [REC]’s confused slide into cheap silliness and irrelevance.

The first part of No Escape is promising as a horror movie, despite (because of?) the presence of two little girls. The moment you realize the protagonists have young daughters, you figure No Escape is going to pull its punches. You just can’t have kids in horror movies these days. Was Guillermo del Toro the last guy to dare to have a horror movie in which the monsters killed a child when one of the giant cockroaches in Mimic blindsided a street urchin? But No Escape flirts with grim high stakes as it reveals the ruthlessness of its monster. Are the two little girls safe when so many people are being shot in the head, mowed down with AK-47s, and hacked to death by machetes?

The monster here is a violent coup in an unspecified Asian country (never mind the Thai writing on the signs and especially never mind that the capital is conveniently on the border with Vietnam, which seems like a terrible place for any country to have its capital). The conspicuously blonde Owen Wilson and his family are caught unawares as rebels take over the palace and then the streets and eventually the tourist hotels. It’s got a bit of zombie apocalypse flavor, with a touch of The Purge. Because tourists and relief workers are targets, it recalls the kidnappings and beheadings by Islamic extremists. But in a brief odd bit of moralizing, No Escape explains that the rebels have a legitimate grievance against the West. Do we maybe deserve this? Did we invite this monster? Did we indeed invent it? Just as a slasher kills teenagers who have sex and use drugs, is this monster killing people whose countries protect corporations and dole out bad loans? It’s a facile but fascinating twist, but it comes too late.

The Dowdles and/or the Weinsteins who financed their movie don’t have the courage of their convictions. No Escape pulls its punches. Just as it hits the lowest level of degradation — where your realize the monster won’t just kill you, but it will strip you of your dignity and your humanity — James Bond arrives to save the day. From here on out, No Escape will be a thriller in which this golden boy from Texas and his Mama Grizzly wife give these rebels the what-for because America. Just like The Impossible, another movie about how privileged visiting white people caught up in an irresistible force shouldn’t have to suffer like the poor brown people who live there, No Escape turns out to be the opposite of its title.

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There can be a thin line between homage and pandering. Turbo Kid, which lands with a resounding thud on the wrong side of that line, is a reverse engineered attempt at 80s nostalgia. With its bright Reagan era palette, thinly veiled Nintendo Power Glove, and earnest post-apocalyptic cheese but soft-pedaled BMX bike aesthetic, it’s meant to recall movies like Megaforce, Metalstorm, Ice Pirates, and Spacehunter. If you can name the subtitles of any of those movies, Turbo Kid thinks it’s for you!

But reverse engineered nostalgia requires a deft touch that eludes this group of filmmakers, who have all the energy and know-how of a crowdsourced movie crew. Without that touch, you’re liable to end up being as bad as your source material, and all the more cringe-worthy for aping it. It takes a Robert Rodriguez to craft a Planet Terror. For some reason, Turbo Kid is chock full of tone-deaf splatter humor. I’ve seen my share of cheesy 80s post-apocalyptic movies shot in rock quarries. I don’t remember any of them being showered in blood and viscera. Turbo Kid eventually has to whip out an umbrella against it all.

Michael Ironsides, looking more like someone’s grandfather than Michael Ironsides, seems to have lost his appetite for chewing scenery, which results in a curiously laidback villain. He’ll get to you when he gets to you. The highlight of this weirdly cloying enterprise is the wide-eyed Laurence Leboeuf as the hero’s love interest slash sidekick. Leboeuf brings almost too much energy to every scene, playing her role like a souped-up Cheri Oteri crossed with a blissed out Jodie Foster. The movie can barely contain her.

Turbo Kid is available for video on demand.

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Someone needs to attack a van carrying mental patients to a treatment facility. Don’t ask. So he brings along his mentally disabled younger brother, who hasn’t taken his meds that day. The younger brother freaks out and shoots everyone. Later, the younger brother will dry hump a kidnapped girl while she’s passed out and tied up. He’s in the running for the worst possible guy you could bring along on a heist.

The twist in Big Sky, a movie where the big reveal is that kids were allowed to play unattended near a swimming pool, is that one of the patients being transported is an agoraphobe. The only way she can travel is closed up in a big metal box, which means the heisters didn’t see her. Now she has to set out under the big sky because her mother, who was riding in the van, is slowly bleeding to death from a gunshot. So the agoraphobe wraps herself up in cloth, puts on some gloves, and sets out across the desert, taking tiny baby steps, one at a time, very slowly. Meanwhile, her mother bleeds out. Big Sky is not about people doing effective things.

The character who takes the biggest slice of Big Sky’s dumb character cake is an addled druggie who attacks the agoraphobe heroine out in the desert. She has pepper spray to defend herself. She brandishes it. He takes it from her. Then he pepper sprays himself in the face. This actually happens. He pepper sprays himself in the face. He holds down the nozzle and waves it around his face as if he were applying spray-on sunblock. This allows the heroine to escape. Imagine a bad guy disarming someone by taking her handgun and then just going ahead and shooting himself. There’s a term for this in drama: deus ex moron.

These are the sort of characters who inhabit Big Sky, a thriller that goes to such ridiculous lengths to generate its supposed thrills that you’re still going “wait, what?” while it’s carrying on as if it just made sense.

Big Sky is currently available for video on demand. Support Qt3 by watching a guy pepper spray himself on

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20 years ago, Russian director Sergei Bodrov’s Prisoners of the Mountain was nominated for a foreign language Academy Award. That should have been his cue to jump into the sarlacc throat of Hollywood. It didn’t happen. He’s spent the last decade doing internationally funded historical epics starring people who don’t make box office in America. Somewhere in there, he also directed Seventh Son, which was Legendary Pictures’ hope for their own Lord of the Rings. Hence the impressive talent assembled behind the scenes, including Bryan Singer cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel, who recently shot Drive for Nicolas Winding Refn; longtime Martin Scorsese production designer Dante Ferretti, whose other credits include The Name of the Rose, Cold Mountain, and Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd; and John Dykstra for visual effects, whose career began with Silent Running and then a modest sci-fi project called Star Wars. But after Bodrov completed Seventh Son, it sat on the shelf for more than two years. This year, it was unceremoniously defenstrated into the dreaded January release window, alongside Jupiter Ascending. It flopped.

Did it deserve it? Who can say. Is it a bad movie? Maybe. Whatever. Do I count it among my guilty pleasures? You bet. This is no made-for-TV throwaway B-movie starring Adrian Paul alongside Syfy level production values. The top-notch behind-the-scenes talent comes through with a procession of imaginative set pieces. And in the lead, Jeff Bridges’ grumpy old wizard is a thing to behold. Imagine Gandalf crossed with Mr. Miyagi crossed with The Dude, but with the One True Beard and Mustache to bind them all. An astute Lebwoski-phile might figure his tavern intro as the bad-ass mage variant of “Hey, careful man, there’s a beverage here…”. He and Julianne Moore play their hero and villain roles as if they were exes at an uneasy standoff after a bitter divorce, but with crazy CG action sequences.

Although the two young leads are both duds, the rest of the cast is a lively group sparingly applied: not nearly enough Olivia Williams (Is there ever?), a brief but delightful Kit Harington appearance, and the distractingly hot Antje Traue (Man of Steel, Pandorum) bound up in a Ren Faire dress. To be fair, the costumes in Seventh Son are as aces as the rest of the production values. When Julianne Moore meets the ingenue, she takes the time to compliment her shoes.

The witch-hunters vs. witches world-building plays out a bit like The Witcher. In fact, this could be a Witcher movie, except for the fact that Bridges is such an unrepentant goofball. “It’s near impossible to battle demons when you have wet feet,” he grunts to his new apprentice, sending him off to get his shoes repaired, and reminding him to pick up flour, salt, grease, and bacon. “Fucking witches,” he will later mutter after briefly breaking down some backstory about the end of the world. He has a bitchin’ Bat Cave and the Witcher version of a Batmobile. It’s like he finished the main quest a long time ago and he’s at the level cap, so he can’t be bothered to do side quests anymore. This stuff is like DLC to him.

Seventh Son is available for VOD. Support Qt3 and watch it at

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Djimon Hounsou is known for showing up as a henchman in far-ranging places such as Guardians of the Galaxy, Furious Seven, and Seventh Son. Which is too bad, because the Academy Award nominee from Amistad can still hold a lead role. Check him out in a Thai action movie called Elephant White. His colleague is unlikely heartthrob Norman Reedus, one of the few actors from The Walking Dead whose performance manages to transcend the low bar of TV sincerity barely attained by the rest of the cast. If you’ve got serious indie movie cred, you might know Reedus from Boondock Saints. I’ve never seen Boondock Saints.

In Air, a microbudget movie written and directed by one of Rockstar’s main writers and produced by the guy who did the Walking Dead comic books, they’re in charge of maintaining a mysterious underground bunker whose purpose is revealed as the movie progresses. Basically, they’re janitors awakened from suspended animation for an hour or so every few months. Why are they here? What are they doing? What’s going on in the wider world? Stop guessing, because you’re liable to get the right answers and accidentally ruin the movie for yourself.

But Air isn’t trying to be a mystery so much as it’s trying to be a relationship movie. However, the inherent problem with the genre of men-in-a-bunker/lifeboat/spaceship is that you can only do so much with men in a bunker, lifeboat, or spaceship. So it takes the sort of serious writing chops that went into Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat, Stanley Kubrick’s 2001, or Duncan Jones’ Moon. It takes the sort of serious writing chops that go into making, say, a good stage play. But with Air, we get a facile morality play that decides to escalate itself into a paranoid confrontation just in time for the climax. After this supposed burst of excitement provided by two men at each other’s throats, the whole enterprise just sort of, uh, stops breathing. Without better material, Hounsou and Reedus are left to thrash about without much motivation. A timer flops down numbers on the wall. That’s how long until the movie is over. Once it’s done, it turns out that Air is, ironically, a slight and curiously airless affair.

Air is available on video on demand. Watch it on to support Qt3.

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To enjoy Unfriended, which is feasible without lumping it into the “so bad it’s good” category, you have to accept a few things. First, it’s about dumb kids. The setting is social media, so that’s expected. But this is also a slasher movie, so the dumb kids are mandatory. Second, it’s committed to its gimmick, so you can’t expect any more than you’d expect from, say, a found footage movie. And third, it’s not good so much as admirably competent for a movie built around a gimmick. Despite the dumb kids and the gimmick, it’s very solidly an R-rated horror movie.

Unfriended relies on a mundane familiarity with Skype, Gmail, Youtube, Facebook, and so forth (either Twitter wasn’t on board or these kids don’t Tweet). It relies on the sounds, the interfaces, the rhythm of copy pasting, alt tabbing, the hitch of a bad connection, how someone might swirl her cursor around before clicking on something. This is the language of Unfriended, a logical next step after the social media mystery Catfish. It plays particularly well streaming to a computer. Ideally, a laptop. I would have felt awfully foolish seeing this in a theater.

Nacho Vigolando did something similar with Open Windows, an Elijah Wood Hitchcockian thriller that goes off the rails and dares you to object as it gets increasingly silly. But Unfriended’s “is it supernatural?” angle lets it get away with a little more. The ensemble cast, convincingly led by Shelley Hennig who could very well kick off a scream queen career, is enough to pad out its 80-minute running time. Contrast this with the brevity of the memorable segment in VHS called “The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger”, which is a Skype call between two people.

Sure, it’s cheap. But it’s effective, with its share of easy puzzles and expected twists. The inevitable movies that will use this gimmick from here on out are probably going to be a whole lot worse. You might as well get in while the getting’s still good.

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The history of warfare is partly a history of being able to stand farther and farther away from the people you’re killing. From longbows to muskets to battleships to aircraft to missiles to drones in Afghanistan remotely piloted by airmen in Las Vegas. This latter distance is the subject of Good Kill, in which Ethan Hawke and Bruce Greenwood are mostly secure in the knowledge that their targets are always and only bad guys. If kids get in the way of their drone strikes, they’re suitably upset about it. So when the CIA tells them — over speakerphone, no less! — to just blow up innocent bystanders, and then some first responders for good measure, they get even more suitably upset. As the new girl on the job and bleeding-heart-on-her-sleeve liberal, Zoe Kravitz actually cries about it. She’s just that sensitive to what’s Right and what’s Wrong. Don’t worry, she’ll turn in her wings before the movie is over.

Good Kill is convenient pap with characters declaiming superficial political stances in lieu of dialogue and shots of the hero’s home from the same angle as shots of the drone targets because, uh, reasons. What a disappointment considering Good Kill was directed by Andrew Niccol, who previously directed the smart and intimate Gattaca. And then he went on to direct the not smart In Time and the even less smart The Host, each with ballooning budgets. With Good Kill, Niccol is obviously pining for smaller and more cerebral message movies, but the message here is obvious, facile, and ham-handed. In the end, Good Kill decides to find redemption by shooting a Hellfire missile at a serial rapist. Hurray for vigilante drone strikes!

Good Kill is in theaters now in limited release.

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All you need to know about Run All Night is that at a certain point in the movie Liam Neeson as a washed up former hitman and Common as a hi-tech assassin fight each other with flaming sticks and it makes perfect sense.

When Jaume Collet-Serra directed Orphan, he took the “evil kid” genre and breathed life, character, and craft into it. Here he does the same thing with the Liam Neeson action genre. Granted, it took him three tries. Who can remember the dopey Unknown and Non-Stop? But unlike those earlier Neeson pieces, Run All Night has a clever character-based script with a great cast led by Neeson, Ed Harris, and Joel Kinnaman (it’s a shame Kinnaman is doing his best work in box office under-performers like this and the Robocop reboot). Also among the cast members is New York played by New York itself instead of Toronto or Vancouver, and Run All Night isn’t afraid to run amok in the streets to prove it.

The big surprise is that once you look past the absurdly high R-rated body count, you’ll find an unlikely story about fathers that spans four generations. It’s great to see Neeson expending huge amounts of ammo, racking up property damage, slugging bad guys, choking a henchman with the gross rotary hand towel in a New York public restroom, and fighting Common with a flaming stick. But who knew you’d get all that in a movie you can take your dad to on Father’s Day?

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Resist the temptation to think of Wild as a chick movie. Given the press, that might be hard to do. Writer Cheryl Strayed, whose memoir of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada was adapted for the movie, and actor/producer Reese Witherspoon have used the movie’s publicity to advocate for women’s issues in Hollywood. Good for them. But this isn’t an issue movie. Instead, it’s a survival drama, minus the kind of catastrophe you get in 127 Hours or Into the Wild. That the lead character is a woman, and that she is largely defined by her relationship with another woman, shouldn’t even be an issue. It is, of course. But it shouldn’t be. And it shouldn’t be Wild’s identifying characteristic.

What makes Wild stand out is how it recreates the state of mind of someone alone in the wilderness. The visuals are gorgeous as the geography progresses from the barren desert through the cold and into the lush greenery of the Pacific Northwest. It’s no accident this progression reflects Strayed’s state of mind. The muted soundtrack is music remembered from a radio playing in a car or heard from another room. Director Jean-Marc Vallee’s deftly edited flashbacks are sometimes a split second or sometimes drawn out sequences, all presented in the style of someone left alone with her thoughts and recollections, all telling us a bit more about this woman.

And this is a woman worth meeting. Another thing that sets Wild apart from stereotypical chick movies is that Wild isn’t about someone who was failed by her parents or betrayed by her spouse. She isn’t rising above a perceived victimization, finding her strength. She’s an already strong character taking stock of the decisions she has made. Reese Witherspoon shows no trace of Tracy Flick, a role that’s hounded her ever since Election. Grimly bearing the burden of that colossal backpack, she shows grit, weariness, self-awareness, and complexity. This is how you work your way out from under a career of romantic comedies. Once again, Laura Dern reveals herself as an actor who deserves far more recognition than she gets. Who else consistently channels raw emotional intensity like Dern? It’s exhausting, in a good way.

As a procedural about an absolutely ass-kicking hike, Wild considers simple issues like having the right shoes and stove fuel. It also deals with the maddening loneliness, offset by bursts of camaraderie among fellow hikers. Wild is a warmly humanistic movie, full of good people. But it’s scary for a woman to be alone in the wilderness in a different way than it is for a man. The isolation when you see that lone hiker in the distance has very different implications for a woman. Wild acknowledges this, but doesn’t cheaply exploit it.

Wild is currently available on Blu-ray, DVD, and video on demand. Support Qt3 and watch it on

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Maggie isn’t a zombie movie so much as an elegy about terminally ill children. Who will turn into zombies. It takes place in the rural malaise following an averted zombie apocalypse. Arnold Scharzeneggar has brought home his infected daughter and now he has only to wait until she turns. Will he take her to a quarantine center? Will he put her out of her misery himself? Will his accent be explained? These are the questions the viewer must ponder.

The script calls for quiet grieving. Schwarzenegger is clearly out of his depth. But so too is the haggard farmer he affects. What parent is prepared to watch his child wither and die? What could have been the weakest part of the movie — an action star trying his hand at quiet emoting — kind of works. Kind of.

But then there’s the rest of the movie. First time director Henry Hobson has a nice eye for prosaic detail and dying light (the movie could have been called Twilight of the Living Dead and not just for its tween lead and tween romantic subplot (it could also have been called Foxcatcher, although you have to see the movie to understand that one)). But Hobson takes too long going nowhere in particular. The slow burn fizzles out and trails off. He furthermore displays a singular ability to undercut every scene by serving it with either rolling thunder underneath or syrupy music drizzled on top.

The supporting cast has the kind eyes and severe faces you’d expect in a rural malaise. And then there’s poor sporting Abigail Breslyn, who made her mark in movies by being humiliated in Little Miss Sunshine. Since then, she has been run down by zombies in Zombieland, thrown into a trunk and rudely beaten in The Call, and trapped in a ghost jar in Haunters. At this rate, I’d lay good odds that she’ll be one of the first to go in this fall’s Scream Queens, a Fox TV series from the creators of American Horror Story in which one major cast member is killed every episode. She’s left to do the heavy lifting in Maggie, despairing as the zombie make-up on her baby round face gets thicker and the contact lenses in her wide eyes get more opaque. If Maggie had trusted her more than its stunt Teutonic casting and the artsy indulgence of its freshman director, it might have shown more signs of life.