Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Holiday movie round-up catch-up

This year I'm going to try to treat this blog more like a film diary again, chronicling my near-daily movie-watching experiences. Before I do that, though, I'll catch you up quickly on movies I've seen since my last review of the underrated Young Adult.

 The Adventures of Tintin: Steven Spielberg's first foray in directing animation is a fun thrill ride, but not much more than that. It has some great action sequence, including a breathtaking sequence done in one long shot that ups the ante of the "flying ticket" scene in The Polar Express. Unfortunately, the movie is missing an emotional underpinning because it doesn't spend enough time introducing us to the main character. GRADE: B

Arthur Christmas: Just because it's not Christmas anymore, don't let that stop you from seeing this wonderful film. I saw it after the holiday and was treated to the best animated film of the year, a delightful look at old school vs. new school Santa, in Aardman's inimitable style. GRADE: A-

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: Some critics have complained that this is just the foreign film remade with more visual pizazz. I completely disagree. David Fincher's new film and the Swedish movie obviously have similar story beats. but Fincher's film makes a number of key changes that makes his picture a very different animal. The hypnotic visuals increase the sense of foreboding, but what really puts the film over the top is the amazing lead performance by Rooney Mara, who plays Lisbeth Salander with an intense fragility. Spellbinding, even if the ending goes on a bit too long. GRADE: A

My Week with Marilyn: Many people have said Michelle Williams' performance as Marilyn Monroe is great; the film not so much. Again, I disagree. Williams is excellent, turning in the best portrayal of MM I've ever seen. But the movie cuts deeper than a look at a fragile soul. It's also a Valentine to people intoxicated by movies just as the lead character is. GRADE: A

Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows: I wasn't a fan of the 2009 film, finding it overly brash and frenetic. The sequel, too, is overly frenetic, but surpasses its predecessor with a cleverer script, and more importantly, a much improved villain in the person of Professor Moriarity (Jared Harris). I just with Guy Ritchie would dispense with the Matrix-y visuals which are 12 years out of date. GRADE: B

War Horse: Like Steven Spielberg's other 2011 film, the Adventures of Tintin, has some individual great moments, but they coalesce only into a good film. The picture certainly looks wonderful, thanks to the ever-lustrous images of Janusz Kaminski, but I could feel Spielberg straining for effect, particularly toward the end when he's trying too hard to be John Ford or Victor Fleming. It's a worthwhile film, but it left me wanting. GRADE: B

We Bought a Zoo: Cameron Crowe's first effort since the botch of Elizabethtown has the makings of a sleeper hit, and it's easy to see why. This story of a family trying to find itself after the loss of its wife/mother via the impulse purchase of a zoo is clearly heartfelt. It gets a little too cutesy at times, and the movie has way too many endings,  but a winning cast puts it over. GRADE: B

1 comment:

Rob Bernard said...

I left War Horse wishing Spielberg had just made a WWI trench warfare movie rather than bothering with all the horse stuff.