Currently browsing the "Russell Crowe" tag.

Review: True History of the Kelly Gang

The film opens with, “Nothing you’re about to see is true,” so you know that even though it’s based on the true story of an infamous Australian outlaw and folk hero, extensive liberties have been taken. Adapted from a novel by Peter Carey, True History of the Kelly Gang is really Ned Kelly’s (George MacKay, 1917) story. It’s told in two parts: young Ned’s education at the hands of his less than perfect parents and grown Ned’s criminal life and death. The first part gives you a sense of how he became who he was. The second part is less coherent.

Mainstream Chick’s Quick Takes: The Angry Birds Movie; The Nice Guys; Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising; Love & Friendship; Sunset Song

The Angry Birds Movie – As one adult commented after watching this flick, “It was lamer than I expected. Awful. Though my 6-year-old daughter thought it was great.” There you have it in a nutshell. The Angry Birds Movie is the “origin story” of the birds that are propelled into all sorts of stuff in the once-popular Angry Birds mobile app, including the pigs, bombs, TNT, slingshots, etc. that appear in the addictive game that became a mindless timesuck for millions of smartphone users. The animated ‘action’ takes place on an island populated almost entirely by happy, flightless birds. One exception is the angry outcast Red (voiced by Jason Sudeikis) who becomes sort of an accidental hero when he uncovers a nefarious plot by visiting green pigs who aim to steal all the birds’ eggs. The movie has some clever lines and puns and plenty of decent vocal talent. But the story doesn’t add up to much and is likely to bore most anyone over the age of eight. Regardless, the 90-minute, 3D, PG-rated Birds far out-flew the competition at the box office in its opening weekend. So if the kids rule the roost where movies are concerned, don’t be angry if they demand (or ask nicely) to see it.

Noah

I’m no biblical scholar, but I’ve heard the story of Noah and the flood a few times. I suspect there are not many who haven’t. In a nutshell: “The Creator” talks to Noah. He tells him to build an ark. He does and there is a flood. And there are a lot of animals involved. In the latest cinematic iteration of the story, there are not a lot of surprises. But there are some big time special effects and this one feels like Transformers meets A Beautiful Mind with a touch of Lord of the Rings and a heavy dose of your faith of choice. Noah is not a Cecil B. DeMille reverential telling, but a Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan, Requiem for a Dream) psychological/environmentalist drama. It’s loud and messy and pretty entertaining.

Winter’s Tale

Winter’s Tale is an okay chick flick that never quite finds its way. It’s part time travel, part fantasy, part drama, part romance. Sometimes sad, sometimes funny, sometimes very odd… like when a horse sprouts wings or Will Smith pops up as the devil.

Fans of the 1983 book by Mark Helprin will be shocked at how much the movie diverts from the lengthy novel. Many of the major characters from the book are changed, omitted or made into composites that don’t make much sense. Like why do so many of the characters affect various accents? And what’s with Colin Farrell’s hair? But I digress…

Man of Steel

The new “Superman” movie is getting some mixed reviews, but here’s the real deal on the Man of Steel: It’s definitely worth seeing – just keep your expectations in check and don’t over-think it. It’s not a perfect movie. It’s probably not the best action-hero movie you’ll see this year. But it is an interesting and entertaining re-imagining of the Superman mythology. He’s still the guy who can leap tall buildings in a single bound (once he realizes he can fly) and fight the good fight for truth, justice and the American/Earthly way. He just goes at it from a slightly different angle.

Broken City

Broken City is a broken movie. Sorry, it had to be said. But even an all-star cast can’t fix this noirish clunker. I always wonder about movies released in January. If they were any good, the studio would release them in December in time for award nominations. January is a dumping ground for the studios’ leftover junk, and that’s why Broken City is out now.

Les Misérables

I’ve been somewhat obsessed with Les Misérables ever since I saw the show on Broadway circa 1987. And again in London. And Chicago. And Atlanta. So to say I was looking forward to a big-screen version starring one of my favorite performers, Hugh Jackman, would be a major understatement. In other words, I was an easy sell on this one. It may not be the greatest movie musical of all time, but it is the best in recent memory, despite a few flaws in casting (more on that in a moment).

The Les Miz story, based on the classic novel by Victor Hugo, is a long one, but here’s the gist: It’s the early 1800s in France and a prisoner named Jean Valjean (aka “24601”) is finally being released on parole after 19 years. His crime: stealing a loaf of bread for starving relatives and then trying to escape.

The Next Three Days

Sometimes, ya just have to let a few things slide and enjoy the ride. That’s how I feel about The Next Three Days. All in all, it’s a satisfying action flick that pushes the boundaries of believability but skillfully avoids the nasty trap of predictability. It’s a crime drama and psychological thriller wrapped in a bit of a romance – without the overt heaviness and brutality of the critically-acclaimed, recently-released heist movie The Town.

2010 Fall Movies

We’re moving out of the summer blockbuster kids’ movies and into the fall when traditionally a more serious adult roster hits the screens. This year? Well, there are a few that seem Oscar worthy, several with our favorite men headlining, a couple that look like real chick flicks and what just might be some nice comedies. See for yourself.

Robin Hood

No men in tights here. No borrowing from the rich to give to the poor either. This new Robin Hood is Ridley Scott’s prequel to all that. We first meet Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe) in France on his way back to England after years crusading with King Richard the Lionheart. Robin and his band of not-so-merry men are tired of war and ready to get home, only getting across the channel seems to be a problem. Fortunately they happen upon some knights who had been ambushed by the evil Godfrey (Mark Strong again as the bad guy) while trying to take the recently deceased King Richard’s crown back to England. One of the knights is still alive. He is Robert of Locksley and asks that Robin return his sword to his father in Nottingham. And so Robin and his crew impersonate the knights, take the boat to England, return the crown, and in doing so Robin is forced to keep the ruse of actually being Robert of Locksley going. When he gets to Nottingham, the old, blind father of the knight asks him to keep pretending to be Robert so that the crown will not confiscate his lands when he dies. Robin agrees and calls him father. (And the old guy actually knew Robin’s father, who turns out to have been a revolutionary who was killed in front of the young boy.)