Reel News: Week of 11/12 — Lincoln, Breaking Dawn Part II, A Late Quartet, Brave, The Watch, Savages

Theatrical Releases This Week

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2
Director: Bill Condon
PG-13; 116 mins

The astonishing conclusion to the series, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2, illuminates the secrets and mysteries of this spellbinding romantic epic that has entranced millions. (Synopsis by the Official Site)

A bloodier-than-usual conclusion to the series that won’t disappoint fans. If nothing else, it is an adequate ending, but the twist at the end might surprise some.

Director: Steven Spielberg
PG-13; 153 mins

Steven Spielberg directs Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln, a revealing drama that focuses on the 16th President’s tumultuous final months in office. In a nation divided by war and the strong winds of change, Lincoln pursues a course of action designed to end the war, unite the country and abolish slavery. With the moral courage and fierce determination to succeed, his choices during this critical moment will change the fate of generations to come. (Synopsis by Disney)

Spielberg brings his trademark character obsession and detail to the world of politics. It has been a while since he brought us a “Schindler’s List”-type film, and this one lives up to the challenge. “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” may have been the low point of the Lincoln filmography, this one reaches down to pull the president’s legacy back from the brink.

A Late Quartet
Director: Yaron Zilberman
R; 105 mins

When the beloved cellist of a world-renowned string quartet receives a life changing diagnosis, the group’s future suddenly hangs in the balance: suppressed emotions, competing egos, and uncontrollable passions threaten to derail years of friendship and collaboration. As they are about to play their 25th anniversary concert, quite possibly their last, only their intimate bond and the power of music can preserve their legacy. Inspired by and structured around Beethoven’s Opus 131 String Quartet in C-sharp minor, A LATE QUARTET pays homage to chamber music and the cultural world of New York. (Synopsis by the Official Site)

This character-driven drama largely does not live up to its potential. Despite an excellent cast and a great idea, poor execution does not make for a great film.

DVD Releases This Week

Director: Brenda Chapman and, Mark Andrews
PG; 93 mins

Merida is a skilled archer and impetuous daughter of King Fergus (Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson). Determined to carve her own path in life, Merida defies an age-old custom sacred to the uproarious lords of the land: massive Lord MacGuffin (Kevin McKidd), surly Lord Macintosh (Craig Ferguson) and cantankerous Lord Dingwall (Robbie Coltrane). Merida’s actions inadvertently unleash chaos and fury in the kingdom, and when she turns to an eccentric old Witch (Julie Walters) for help, she is granted an ill-fated wish. The ensuing peril forces Merida to discover the meaning of true bravery in order to undo a beastly curse before it’s too late. (Synopsis by Disney)

Certainly not the best work to come out of Pixar. The multiple plots are too jumbled and the pacing is uneven. What time was spent crafting the scenery would have been better spent on the script.

The Watch
Director: Akiva Schaffer
R; 101 mins

Four everyday suburban guys come together as an excuse to escape their humdrum lives one night a week. But when they accidentally discover that their town has become overrun with aliens posing as ordinary suburbanites, they have no choice but to save their neighborhood — and the world — from total extermination. (Synopsis by 20th Century Fox)

Previously reviewed by The Dagger.

Director: Oliver Stone
R; 129 mins

Laguna Beach entrepreneurs Ben (Johnson), a peaceful and charitable Buddhist, and his closest friend Chon (Kitsch), a former Navy SEAL and ex-mercenary, run a lucrative, homegrown industry-raising some of the best marijuana ever developed. They also share a one-of-a-kind love with the extraordinary beauty Ophelia (Lively). Life is idyllic in their Southern California town…until the Mexican Baja Cartel decides to move in and demands that the trio partners with them. When the merciless head of the BC, Elena (Hayek), and her brutal enforcer, Lado (Del Toro), underestimate the unbreakable bond among these three friends, Ben and Chon-with the reluctant, slippery assistance of a dirty DEA agent (Travolta)-wage a seemingly unwinnable war against the cartel. (Synopsis by Universal)

Style-over-substance is the theme here. Stone is too talented a director to miss this badly, yet he falls hard on this one. It’s gritty, but that doesn’t make up for the shallow plot or terrible ending.