Saturday, March 18, 2017

Beauty and the Beast









Director Bill Condon’s Beauty and the Beast gets off to an iffy start with a rather pedestrian opening song and ends with a rather pedestrian dance (or, perhaps, it’s a bit of jealousy on my part that I’m not dancing with Belle). However, the 2 hours and a few minutes in between are absolutely a joy.
The main reason for the film’s success is the brilliant choice of Emma Watson as the lead character.  Our little Hermione from the Harry Potter films has grown up to be one of the most beautiful women to have ever appeared on screen.  Everything about her performance is perfection.  Thanks to Casting Director Lucy Bevan, who, also, made a brilliant choice for Cinderella, a few years ago.
 
Kevin Kline, Stanley Tucci, Ewan McGregor, Ian McEllen, Emma Thompson and Gugu Mbatha-Raw are wonderful in their roles, as well.

And, hats off to Production Designer Sarah Greenwood for some of the most innovative sets you’ll ever see.



I couldn’t help thinking that La La Land was a wonderful setup for preparing younger audiences to the joys of musical films and, therefore, a great benefit to Composer Alan Menken’s score.  I hope the song Be Our Guest will be remembered for this year’s award nominations.



Bottom line, bring the kids and have a great time at the movies.

I give Beauty and the Beast a 4.3 out of 5.


Sunday, March 12, 2017

Kong: Skull Island









Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ Kong: Skull Island could have been a great movie.  It started out as such.  But two-thirds of the way through, Writer John Gatins story went south with Samuel L. Jackson’s character being so stupid that even the kids near me started to groan.  
If you weren’t for Kong by then, loyalties changed and you just wanted him to end the human characters and get back to keeping the island natives safe.
 
It’s a shame because Director Vogt-Roberts had such great control over the action and the Writing Team of Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein and Derek Connolly, not to mention Cinematographer Larry Fong and the entire Visual Effects team had a crackerjack thriller going for them.  But even all this talent couldn’t fight the eventual story dumbness.



John C. Reilly had the standout performance with Brie Larson and Tom Hiddleston well playing the central couple.  Kong and the “Skull Cracker” monsters were wonderfully created, as well.


Despite the story flaw, I still give Kong: Skull Island a 3.3 out of 5. 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Logan










Writer/Director James Mangold’s Logan may be the best of all the X-Men derived films, even with 2013’s The Wolverine being, in my estimation, one of the best crafted films of that year.

This is due to the fact that, despite the film deals with fantastical characters, it’s played like a more realistic crime thriller; that and the fact young actress Dafne Keen may be the find of the Century.  Kudos to Casting Directors Lisa Beach and Sarah Katzman or whoever was responsible for finding her.

The trio of Keen, Hugh Jackman as Logan and Patrick Stewart as the aged Charles are absolutely riveting in the performances of their camaraderie.

So, even if you’re not an X-Men fan, but like thrillers, you will definitely enjoy this movie. 


That’s not to say it may be tough going for the feint-of-heart.

It’s not even spring yet, but the thrillers promised for the rest of the year have a high bar to face if they want to challenge Logan.
 
I give it a 4.9 out of 5.