Kidman and Eckhart embody Becca and Howie with such unforced ease, interacting so naturally in both relaxed and tense moments, that they seem to be not so much playing characters as playing a relationship — a fragile, troubled marriage with a long history, in which more is unsaid than said.
Rather than a coming of age story, then, Race to Witch Mountain is a dark family action-adventure movie, with moderate doses of X-Files paranoia and Galaxy Quest sci-fi fandom satire, and a sometimes obnoxious rock soundtrack. It’s slicker, darker and funnier than the original films, though wall-to-wall action makes it a bit of a one-trick pony, and prevents the characters from catching their breath and displaying more than one side.
But Radio isn’t really interested enough in its title character as a person to show us much in the way of his supposedly edifying behavior. Radio is less an active character in his own film than a passive recipient of kindness or cruelty, a subject of debate and controversy, a political football to be kicked around. When high-school students between classes cheerfully greet Radio as he cautions them not to run in the hall, the point isn’t how much he cares about them, but how much they care about him.
Like the Paramount logo mountain peak in the now-famous opening dissolve that started it all nearly three decades ago, Raiders of the Lost Ark towers over the surrounding landscape. It is the apotheosis of its genre, the Citizen Kane of pulp action–adventure, definitively summing up all that came before and setting the indelible standard for all that comes after.
Woody Allen keeps telling us God is dead, but he also keeps compulsively burying him.
Faithful to the spirit if not the letter of Beverly Cleary’s Ramona books, Ramona and Beezus borrows eclectically from multiple books rather than sticking to one, but gets right what most matters, above all Ramona herself.
Ratatouille is a revelation — a delightfully surprising discovery in a genre that seldom surprises even savvy youngsters, a warm and winsome confection that will be treasured by viewers young and old long after the mediocrities of summer 2007 have been justly forgotten.
In 2002, according to a July 16 Philadelphia Inquirer story ("Film rating trend raises creepy issues"), Nell Minow, a.k.a. the "Movie Mom" and film critic for movies.yahoo.com, went to see the PG-13 rated About a Boy. At one point in the film, Hugh Grant used an adjectival form of what the MPAA calls "one of the harsher sexually-derived words," but is often referred to as "the f-word."
Real Steel is just plain unpleasant to sit through. So much of the movie is spent amid screaming crowds and abrasive music, often in dark, trashy dives, watching giant robots pound each other into scrap metal. The robot boxing is surprisingly good (Sugar Ray Leonard was a consultant). It’s the humans that are unpleasant.
Of course we don’t really know a whole lot about the CIA, but The Recruit has fun guessing. Directed by Roger Donaldson, who’s helmed the superior thrillers No Way Out (1987) and Thirteen Days as well as action schlock like Species and Dante’s Peak, The Recruit takes us into the Farm, thought to be the name of the CIA’s top-secret training facility, as well as the agency’s Langley, VA headquarters.
Now, with Red Dragon, based on the novel in which Lecter first appeared, the series has come full circle. In Silence, we saw Lecter escape from prison; here we see him captured by FBI profiler Will Graham (Ed Norton, The Score). While the humorous note introduced by Hannibal continues to be a factor, an effective prelude reestablishes Lecter as a frightening psychopath who’s willing to kill innocent and likeable characters.
At least there’s stuff worth looking at. First-time film director Antony Hoffman has an eye for visuals; and the Martian landscape, shot in an Australian quarry and a Jordanian wadi, is stark and compelling. Then there’s the constantly swiveling, gyrating AMEE, a preposterous plot device of a robot which, in its (or "her") feline grace and unlimited range of free-flowing motion, resembles a high-tech computer-generated cross between Transformers and Battle Cats. I liked the little touches almost as much: the crew uses nifty, collapsible hand-held computers with a flexible, glossy display that pulls out from and rolls up into a cylindrical CPU like a window shade, looking for all the world like something you might actually see in a Macintosh commercial from 2050, when the movie is set.
Red Riding Hood is a movie of a sort that I would very much like to see if anyone could make it, which is another way of saying that it is not that sort of movie at all. A real Hollywood fairy tale is the rarest thing in the world. Hollywood is more comfortable with myth and legend. Partly, I think, it’s a matter of scale: Mythology provides the sort of sweeping, epic scope that lends itself to big-screen Hollywood feature filmmaking. Fairy tales are smaller and more intimate, and require a lighter touch.
Tune in Sunday, December 12 at 7pm EST for another episode of “Reel Faith.” Reviewed this week: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Love and Other Drugs and The King’s Speech, plus Fantasia and NET Pcik of the Week. Watch online!
Tune in Friday, July 22 at 8:30pm EDT for another episode of “Reel Faith.” Reviewed this week: Salt, Predators and Ramona and Beezus, plus Rossellini’s Open City and comments about Creation.
Just a belated reminder that the latest episode of “Reel Faith” airs tonight, 8/13, at 8:30pm EDT on NET TV (watch online).
Just a reminder that the latest episode of “Reel Faith” airs tonight, 8/20, at 8:30pm EDT on NET TV (watch online).
If you missed last week’s episode of “Reel Faith,” now’s the time to catch it on the website.
Just a reminder that the latest episode of “Reel Faith” airs this Friday, 8/6, at 8:30pm EDT on NET TV (watch online).
Friday, November 15 marks the beginning of the Reel Faith 2013 holiday season! Tune in at 8:00pm ET as David and I review Thor: The Dark World, Ender’s Game and more. Watch NET live
Copyright © 2000– Steven D. Greydanus. All rights reserved.