Upcoming Theatrical Releases
Saving Mr. Banks
Director: John Lee Hancock
PG-13, 125 mins.
Two-time Academy Award (R)-winner Emma Thompson and fellow double Oscar (R)-winner Tom Hanks topline Disney’s “Saving Mr. Banks,” inspired by the extraordinary, untold backstory of how Disney’s classic “Mary Poppins” made it to the screen. When Walt Disney’s daughters begged him to make a movie of their favorite book, P.L. Travers’ “Mary Poppins,” he made them a promise-one that he didn’t realize would take 20 years to keep. In his quest to obtain the rights, Walt comes up against a curmudgeonly, uncompromising writer who has absolutely no intention of letting her beloved magical nanny get mauled by the Hollywood machine. But, as the books stop selling and money grows short, Travers reluctantly agrees to go to Los Angeles to hear Disney’s plans for the adaptation. For those two short weeks in 1961, Walt Disney pulls out all the stops. Armed with imaginative storyboards and chirpy songs from the talented Sherman brothers, Walt launches an all-out onslaught on P.L. Travers, but the prickly author doesn’t budge. He soon begins to watch helplessly as Travers becomes increasingly immovable and the rights begin to move further away from his grasp. It is only when he reaches into his own childhood that Walt discovers the truth about the ghosts that haunt her, and together they set Mary Poppins free to ultimately make one of the most endearing films in cinematic history. Inspired by true events, “Saving Mr. Banks” is the extraordinary, untold story of how Disney’s classic “Mary Poppins” made it to the screen-and the testy relationship that the legendary Walt Disney had with author P.L. Travers that almost derailed it. (Synopsis by Disney)
Check out my review this week on The Dagger.
Walking with Dinosaurs
Director: Neil Nightingale and Barry Cook
PG; 80 mins.
For the first time in movie history, audiences will truly see and feel what it was like when dinosaurs ruled the Earth. WALKING WITH DINOSAURS is the ultimate immersive, big screen adventure for families. Meet dinosaurs more real than you’ve ever seen as you take off on a thrilling prehistoric adventure, where Patchi, an underdog dinosaur, triumphs against all odds to become a hero for the ages. (Synopsis by Fox)
A high school story told with dinosaurs. At the end of the day, this exists as little more than an excuse to sell toys, and everything about it reflects that flawed premise. Skip it.
Inside Llewyn Davis
Director: Ethan Coen and Joel Coen
R; 105 mins
INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS follows a week in the life of a young folk singer as he navigates the Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961. Guitar in tow, huddled against the unforgiving New York winter, he is struggling to make it as a musician against seemingly insurmountable obstacles-some of them of his own making. (Synopsis by CBS)
Check out my review coming soon on The Dagger.
Director: David O. Russell
R; 129 mins.
A fictional film set in the alluring world of one of the most stunning scandals to rock our nation, American Hustle tells the story of brilliant con man Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale), who along with his equally cunning and seductive British partner Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) is forced to work for a wild FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper). DiMaso pushes them into a world of Jersey powerbrokers and mafia that’s as dangerous as it is enchanting. Jeremy Renner is Carmine Polito, thepassionate, volatile, New Jersey political operator caught between the con-artists and Feds. Irving’s unpredictable wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) could be the one to pull the thread that brings the entire world crashing down. Like David O. Russell’s previous films, American Hustle defies genre, hinging on raw emotion, and life and death stakes. (Synopsis by Sony)
This was highly entertaining, even if it is a bit of a rambling mess. In another year, this wouldn’t be in the conversation for an Oscar. Russell could have used the assistance of someone reining in his impulse for improvisation. Then again, this is a film that is more fun than most Oscar contenders. See it.
Upcoming DVD Releases
Director: Neill Blomkamp
R, 97 mins.
In the year 2154, two classes of people exist: the very wealthy, who live on a pristine man-made space station called Elysium, and the rest, who live on an overpopulated, ruined Earth. The people of Earth are desperate to escape the planet’s crime and poverty, and they critically need the state-of-the-art medical care available on Elysium – but some in Elysium will stop at nothing to enforce anti-immigration laws and preserve their citizens’ luxurious lifestyle. The only man with the chance bring equality to these worlds is Max (Matt Damon), an ordinary guy in desperate need to get to Elysium. With his life hanging in the balance, he reluctantly takes on a dangerous mission – one that pits him against Elysium’s Secretary Delacourt (Jodie Foster) and her hard-line forces – but if he succeeds, he could save not only his own life, but millions of people on Earth as well. (Synopsis by Sony)
It works very well in the visual medium; not as well in the storytelling department. The message of the film is about the concentration of wealth: unlike “District 9,” that message gets lost in the weak script. Rent it.
Director: Jeff Wadlow
R; 103 mins.
After Kick-Ass’ insane bravery inspires a new wave of self-made masked crusaders, led by the badass Colonel Stars and Stripes, our hero joins them on patrol. When these amateur superheroes are hunted down by Red Mist — reborn as The Mother F%&*^r — only the blade-wielding Hit Girl can prevent their annihilation. When we last saw junior assassin Hit Girl and young vigilante Kick-Ass, they were trying to live as normal teenagers Mindy and Dave. With graduation looming and uncertain what to do, Dave decides to start the world’s first superhero team with Mindy. Unfortunately, when Mindy is busted for sneaking out as Hit Girl, she’s forced to retire-leaving her to navigate the terrifying world of high-school mean girls on her own. With no one left to turn to, Dave joins forces with Justice Forever, run by a born-again ex-mobster named Colonel Stars and Stripes. Just as they start to make a real difference on the streets, the world’s first super villain, The Mother F%&*^r, assembles his own evil league and puts a plan in motion to make Kick-Ass and Hit Girl pay for what they did to his dad. But there’s only one problem with his scheme: If you mess with one member of Justice Forever, you mess with them all. (Synopsis by Universal Pictures)
Most films don’t need sequels and this falls firmly in that category. It’s a dumbed-down version of the original that has lost its shock value. Skip it.
The Lone Ranger
Director: Gore Verbinski
PG-13; 149 mins.
From producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Gore Verbinski, the filmmaking team behind the blockbuster “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise, comes Disney/ Jerry Bruckheimer Films’ “The Lone Ranger,” a thrilling adventure infused with action and humor, in which the famed masked hero is brought to life through new eyes. Native American spirit warrior Tonto (Johnny Depp) recounts the untold tales that transformed John Reid (Armie Hammer), a man of the law, into a legend of justice-taking the audience on a runaway train of epic surprises and humorous friction as the two unlikely heroes must learn to work together and fight against greed and corruption. (Synopsis by Disney)
A movie that just doesn’t know when to quit. Seriously, for a solid hour this movie just keeps going, well after it should have ended. No matter how bad you think it is, it is worse. Much, much worse. Skip it.