By Landon McDonald

Excess Hollywood: 'Man of Steel' draws strength from its hero’s humanity

Excess Hollywood: ‘Man of Steel’ draws strength from its hero’s humanity

How do you take a character as timeless as Superman and make him timely? That’s the question raised by Zack Snyder’s “Man of Steel,” a viscerally and emotionally satisfying reboot that takes a calculated risk by redefining nearly every aspect of the Superman mythos with the exception of Superman himself, who remains, as he must, […]

'The Internship' works overtime for downsized laughs

‘The Internship’ works overtime for downsized laughs

Eight years after their uproarious “Wedding Crashers” proved that R-rated comedies could still score at the box office, the once-dependable Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson have reunited for “The Internship,” a middling generational comedy that doubles as an alarmingly shameless two-hour infomercial about how nifty it might be to work for Google. In fact, director […]

Excess Hollywood: Summer movie preview

Excess Hollywood: Summer movie preview

With temperatures and ticket prices both steadily on the rise, it’s often difficult to know which movies are truly worthy of your hard-earned time and money. Some of the season’s biggest cinematic offerings are nothing more than lumbering golems of mass-marketed mediocrity, coldly engineered to bombard audiences with droning sound and fury for a few […]

Excess Hollywood: ‘The Great Gatsby’ intoxicates and exasperates

Excess Hollywood: ‘The Great Gatsby’ intoxicates and exasperates

“Let me tell you about the very rich,” F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote a few months before the publication of “The Great Gatsby,” a work now considered his ultimate treatise on the subject. “They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we […]

Excess Hollywood: 'To the Wonder' less stunning than Malick's previous films

Excess Hollywood: ‘To the Wonder’ less stunning than Malick’s previous films

Terrence Malick is a filmmaker whose deliberate, ethereal style has earned him nearly four decades’ worth of critical acclaim and unwavering respect within his industry. The notoriously reclusive auteur, who hasn’t given an interview since the 1970s, possesses an almost alchemical ability to transmute dreams and memory into the realm of pure cinema, taking the […]

Excess Hollywood: 'Iron Man 3' shakes the rust off the franchise

Excess Hollywood: ‘Iron Man 3′ shakes the rust off the franchise

The first “Iron Man” may have resuscitated Robert Downey Jr.’s career, but it was Shane Black who applied the defibrillator paddles back in 2005 when the “Lethal Weapon” screenwriter-turned-director cast the newly sober Downey as a motor-mouthed amateur sleuth in his rollicking L.A. neo-noir “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.” Despite its tepid box office returns, the […]

Excess Hollywood: The horror of 'Antiviral' is only skin-deep

Excess Hollywood: The horror of ‘Antiviral’ is only skin-deep

Canadian cult filmmaker David Cronenberg has long been acknowledged as the father of body horror, a nasty little sub-genre noted for externalizing moral corruption through graphic depictions of perversion (“Crash”), decay (“Rabid”) and transfiguration (“The Fly,” “Videodrome”). Although Cronenberg himself has since graduated to the comparatively elegant ferocity of character dramas like “A History of […]

Excess Hollywood: McConaughey makes 'Mud' worth rolling in

Excess Hollywood: McConaughey makes ‘Mud’ worth rolling in

In the six years since the release of his debut “Shotgun Stories,” Jeff Nichols has been quietly establishing himself as one of the most exciting new voices in independent film, a writer-director with a refreshingly un-ironic affection for life in rural America and a gift for harnessing atmosphere as an active participant in his work. […]

Excess Hollywood: Michael Bay's 'Pain & Gain' impresses with unexpected flair

Excess Hollywood: Michael Bay’s ‘Pain & Gain’ impresses with unexpected flair

Question: What happens when Michael Bay foregoes almost everything that makes him the eyeball-straining, intellect-draining king of summer blockbusters: his nine-figure budgets, his penchant for non-stop explosions, his borderline incomprehensible editing style and his inexplicable affinity for Shia Labeouf and leg-humping robots? Answer: He turns around and makes his best movie since 1996’s “The Rock.” […]

Excess Hollywood: 'Lords of Salem' conjures up limited frights

Excess Hollywood: ‘Lords of Salem’ conjures up limited frights

Beneath the dreadlocked tresses and the inky armor of his many, many tattoos, Rob Zombie has always been a movie geek at heart, a fanboy trapped in the body of a motley shock-rocker. White Zombie, the now-defunct metal band he co-founded in 1985, took its name from a 1932 Bela Lugosi voodoo thriller, and songs […]

Excess Hollywood: 'Oblivion', 'Trance' and 'Lords of Salem'

Excess Hollywood: ‘Oblivion’, ‘Trance’ and ‘Lords of Salem’

On this week’s Excess Hollywood, Alex Lamb and Landon McDonald discuss the gorgeous sci-fi blockbuster “Oblivion“, the head trip “Trance” and artless horror flick “Lords of Salem.” Related content: Excess Hollywood: ‘Trance’ is less than spellbounding

Excess Hollywood: 'Man of Steel' trailer sends fan expectations soaring

Excess Hollywood: ‘Man of Steel’ trailer sends fan expectations soaring

The newest trailer for Zack Snyder’s forthcoming Superman reboot “Man of Steel” has elicited a strong response from fans eager to witness the return of the original superhero, a deathless icon dedicated to fighting for truth, justice and the American way. The ad also confirms what many within the Phog have suspected for years: the […]

Excess Hollywood: “Trance” is less than spellbinding

Excess Hollywood: “Trance” is less than spellbinding

Could a work of art ever be worth more than a human life? That’s the diabolically intriguing question posed by “Trance,” a style-conscious psychodrama in which a shimmering puzzle box artifice masks the densely plotted machinations of a fairly standard bait-and-switch crime thriller. Danny Boyle’s newest film desperately wants to scale the cerebral heights of […]

Excess Hollywood: Presidential Movies

Excess Hollywood: Presidential Movies

      As President Obama is visiting KU on Friday, Landon and Alex discuss films about U.S. Presidents this week. Landon also tells about his trip to the USC school of cinematic arts and Los Angeles, and they discuss “The Place Beyond the Pines.”

Excess Hollywood: 'Jurassic Park' roars into a new dimension

Excess Hollywood: ‘Jurassic Park’ roars into a new dimension

Just when you thought it was safe to plan a weekend excursion to a benevolent billionaire’s newly completed theme park, life found a way to bring “Jurassic Park” back to the big screen. Nearly 20 years after dominating 1993’s box office and demonstrating the shared miracle of CGI and Stan Winston’s groundbreaking animatronics, I’m happy […]