Released: February 14, 2014. Directed by: Akiva Goldsman. Starring: Colin Farrell, Jessica Brown Findlay, Russell Crowe. Runtime: 118 min.
“Winter’s Tale” is a story about destiny. It also has spirit guides in the form of flying white horses. That’s the first hint that it has a larger focus on the fantasy aspect of it, and it’s almost like a fairy tale with all of its themes. There’s an idea proposed that when people die, they don’t go up to Heaven per sé but they go up into a place in the sky, where their souls become the stars that we see at night. The film also proposes the idea that everyone has one miracle within them to give to someone else. This is the story of Peter Lake’s miracle.
Peter Lake (Colin Farrell) is an ordinary thief who is running from a mob of fancily dressed folks at the beginning of the film, led by Pearly Soames (Russell Crowe). He escapes them by hopping on a flying white horse and proceeds to wander the streets until his fancy horse stops in front of a big house. He decides to go into the house with intentions to rob the house, but instead falls in love with a young dying heiress who lives there, named Beverly Penn (Jessica Brown Findlay). He loves her deeply and when he learns he has the gift of reincarnation, he sets out to save her.
The film also expresses the idea that light connects everything. The dying heiress Beverly in one scene is talking about this in what at first seems like a crazy daze, that the sicker she gets she sees that light connects everything. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, is why some might ask “What are you going on about?” The villain of the film also likes light, a master thief who really likes pebbles and fancy stones. It’s because when he puts the dish full of pebbles against the window it makes a funny holographic psychic shape… Or something like that? Anyway, some might legitimately think he’s a tall leprechaun because of his fascination with all the valuables, and since there are flying horses, it wouldn’t be far-fetched for him to ride a horse to the end of the rainbow.
Well, he’s not a leprechaun but he’s a demonic evil boss that you certainly wouldn’t want. The higher power he works for is played by a surprise actor one wouldn’t expect in the role, but do yourselves a favor, and if you wanted to be surprised, don’t browse beyond principal cast of the film on websites. Pearly leads his large group of other fancily dressed thieves who wear suits and those black bowl hats, the ones that Charlie Chaplin would wear. He’s a god-awful villain who has been “blackening souls and crushing miracles” for as long as he remembers. Crowe is a really good actor who makes do with the laughably bad dialogue he’s given; and he deserves praise for delivering some of his lines with a straight face. But I do wonder why he didn’t question the silliness of head-butting Farrell repeatedly in the face. He’s in this sorta bounty hunting business again after his turn in “Les Miserables,” but at least he didn’t have an awful accent in that one, but we should be thankful he’s not singing his stupid lines in this one. Why these folks want to crush miracles and have such a problem with goodness happening isn’t really explained. But all we have to know is this guy is evil and he has a bone to pick with Peter Lake.
The way it shows good vs. evil is through, at least one way that I picked up on, the different colours of horses. Peter rides a white one, Pearly has a black one. Anyway, the romance between Peter and Beverly is heartwarming; but it’s elevated to another greater level by the performances given by Farrell and Findlay. The disease Bev has is consumption; and she can never let her body heat get too high. It’s a bit of a pity that their romance is great and that the story in general can be so laughably awful. I found myself laughing in scenes that were supposed to be serious, but it’s so poorly written many can’t take it seriously at all. This is one of the most unintentionally funny films I’ve seen in the past few years; so if you want to see it for a laugh, give it a shot. There are five occasions where, even though it’s not a comedy, I was laughing my ass off – and I mean, when it’s laughably bad, it’s hilarious. There are some profoundly heart-warming scenes, but so much of this is profoundly stupid. I mean there’s some CGI effects that make people’s faces all evil-like and there’s one character who, when he’s finished talking, viciously turns off the light above his head. How silly. I think this is my early favourite for the “so bad it’s almost good” movie of 2014.
The idea that everything is connected by light is just too uninspired for me, and Pearly’s motivations to get rid of Lake are stupid and uninspired, too. There are some good aspects. I like the performances by Colin Farrell and Jessica Brown Findlay; I think their chemistry is electric. The cinematography for this part period-piece is quite great; but it seems like the authour Mark Helprin intended this to be a mythical New York, and it looks pretty ordinary to me. It seems like that is writer/director’s Akiva Goldsmith’s fault with that aspect. (I might give the book a shot, this seems like it’d be good in different hands.) The third act is heartwarming, and the film’s finest stretch.
This is where Jennifer Connelly’s character is introduced late in the film. The film starts in 1914, but Lake meets her in the year 2014 making the fantastical flick span a whole century. What Lake did for those one hundred years with no memory is what I’d like to know. Job interviewers would say: “What’s your name? Do you have any references?” He’d answer “I don’t know” to both, and never get hired. And what I’d like to know is if Lake is human or if he’s a supernatural being? And why does Lake have an Irish accent if he was raised in Brooklyn? Pearly’s accent surely couldn’t be influential if it’s so awful, right? These are things that would be simple to explain, but we never get that convenience.
Tagline: Nothing is more powerful than the human spirit.
Did you know? The real family that the main characters are based on are in fact Spanish but living in Japan at the time of the Tsunami.
On Sunday, December 26, 2004, the Indian Ocean earthquake forever changed the lives of many people, and took the lives of over 230, 000 in fourteen countries. The earthquake trigged a series of ravaging tsunamis along the coasts bordering the Indian Ocean. Coastal communities were struck with waves up to 30 meters high. All these factors make it one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history. Countries like Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and Thailand were the countries most devastated by the tsunamis. The Impossible tells the true story of one of the families caught in the middle of one of the worst natural catastrophes of our time.
Maria Bennett (Naomi Watts), her husband, Henry (Ewan McGregor), and their three sons, from eldest to youngest, Lucas (Tom Holland), Thomas (Samuel Joslin) and Simon (Oaklee Pendergast), are on an airplane on their way to a beach resort in Thailand, where they will be spending the Christmas holidays. They’re a very regular family, they get scared, and they open presents just like everyone else on a beautiful Christmas morning. On Boxing Day, they spend the morning at the beach, just like many other tourists. However, their normal day turns awry when they hear a distant noise becoming a roar. A tsunami strikes the resort, Maria and Lucas go one way, and Henry and the two youngest, the other. Will they be able to survive and overcome the unlikely odds of finding each other?
This definitely could just be another average, inspiring story. However, it has a lot more going for it. This manages to stand out in memory as a strong, emotional, inspirational feature that is one of the most truly moving films of 2012.
The dramatic screenplay sets a canvas for great performances from the whole cast. Naomi Watts is the strongest of the bunch, but is not the only one who deserves recognition for her efforts. Ewan McGregor and Tom Holland are also fantastic. McGregor must show fear and many other emotions in the hope of finding his family. In one scene, he breaks down emotionally calling a family member back home (it might be his brother) that deems difficult for the audience member not to be moved by. For this scene alone, he really should have received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Holland also shows that his character is strong-willed because he goes off to help other families, leading to a fantastic scene that strikes like an emotional bulldozer. Holland also proves capable of carrying a film when he is called on to.
McGregor and Holland express very real emotions of desperation and despair that we’d all be feeling in this situation. The two little kids also deliver strong performances, albeit not as memorable as everyone else. They still leave an impression, and they are great enough to not be just another child actor destined for a forgettable dead-end career on the Disney channel.
These characters are strong-willed and would do anything to survive and find each other. This film is a true testament of the human spirit, much like Les Misérables. However, the obstacle those characters had to face was the French Revolution, and not 30-meters high waves. The audience can really relate to the characters, because this could really happen to anyone in any place or time. They are so real that it’s difficult not to root for them. After watching this, you’ll probably want to run home and hug your loved ones all day long.
The film is usually very realistic, even if there are some tedious scenes that rely on suspense a bit more than drama, as there are some scenes where the audience member is in their seat dying for the family members to find each other. These aspects make it not only a drama, but at times a thriller. There are intense scenes like when they are trying to find each other, when the devastating tsunami strikes the resort and Maria and Lucas are fighting to hold onto each other, and in a few dream-like sequences. These aspects keep it from turning into a melodramatic mess. Some suspenseful scenes audience members might just wish would end, because they might just be a little too emotionally draining. It all gets back on track, though, when those few times come about. One other unrealistic aspect, however, is the fact that the two younger sons seem to be well-groomed. What, did they find a hair stylist merely floating about?
Naomi Watts gets a leg that’s disgustingly prone to infections, poor Holland has a spine that looks like it was dragged across a dirt road, and McGregor gets red rings around his pupils that will spark a nasty case of pink eye. These two little guys get a few scratches. What’s up with that? Other than that little misstep, the make-up is really quite marvelous, making us think that the actors really may have been in this tsunami.
This feature is really, really quite must-see. It is endlessly inspiring and emotionally strong, even if I feel four or five minutes could have been edited out. It even has some truly amazing cinematography, and the film is simply beautiful. I feel, however, that I must give you a few warnings about this feature. 1) There are some seriously nasty injury images, specifically Watts’ leg injury, that make this a feature not for the faint of heart. At all. 2) This is not a good date movie. Well, unless your angle is to let your date see you cry deeply, then go right for it!
One more thing: If you are not emotionally moved by this feature on some level, I highly recommend seeing a psychiatrist – you might be a sociopath. Seriously.
Warm Bodies opened to a great $20.3 million on the Superbowl weekend, and it’s also a really good film. Stand Up Guys opened to $1.5 million at 659 theaters, which is pretty decent. However, Sly proves that this is not a good year for solo outings for The Expendables co-stars. Arnie’s vehicle, The Last Stand, only grossed $6.2 million in its opening weekend; and Jason Statham’s vehicle, Parker, only grossed $7 million in its opening weekend. Click the title for my review.
Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters came out on top with $19.69 million, and Mama drops 53.9% to $13.088 million this weekend. Parker made $7 million, while Movie 43 proves to be the worst reviewed film of the year so far, and the largest box office bomb with a measly $4.8 million.
Click the title for my review.
Top 10 Box Office, The Results (Estimates)
My Prediction/Off by (+/–)
1. Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters: $19, 690, 956
There are three releases coming out this weekend: an action-comedy cross-over, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters; a crude comedy, Movie 43 and; a new Statham vehicle, Parker.
The most intriguing, to me, is Hansel and Gretel. I love a good twist on a classic tale, and Will Ferrell and Adam McKay on as producers catches my attention even more. The story follows the titular pair of the classic fairy tale, but this time they’re bounty hunters who hunt witches all over the world. They are also now facing a new form of evil.
One of the most recent classic twists on a fairy tale, Red Riding Hood, made $14 million in its opening weekend. Though, this one is in 3D and it has the popularity of Jeremy Renner going for it. I also hope it’ll be a bigger hit than R.R.H. I think this will gross $19 million this weekend.
Movie 43 seems like a new New Year’s Eve for the crude comedy genre, and for the modern internet age. The story: A series of interconnected short films follows three kids as they search the depths of the Internet to find the world’s most banned movie. It has a bunch of different directors and practically everyone in it, so it has that going for it… It also looks incredibly stupid. New Year’s Eve grossed $13 million in its opening weekend, and Valentine’s Day grossed $56.26 million in its opening weekend, but I highly doubt this will get an opening weekend return anywhere near Valentine’s number. I think it will gross a little less than New Year’s Eve number. With better execution than 2012’s V/H/S (a film that also used short films as a major contribution), this could turn out to be a hit. This will still earn a nice profit in its opening weekend because of its solid marketing campaign and buzz on thee ole Twitter-sphere. I think this will gross $12.5 million this weekend.
Statham’s most recent action vehicle, Parker, teams him up with Jennifer Lopez. The story: A thief with a unique code of professional ethics is double-crossed by his crew and left for dead. Assuming a new disguise and forming an unlikely alliance with a woman on the inside, he looks to hijack the score of the crew’s latest heist. For 2013, the gross for the one action flick with a primary action hero isn’t too promising (Arnie’s The Last Stand, grossing $6.28 in its opening weekend). Statham has an average opening weekend gross of $12.19 million. Whilst that’s more than decent, my interest for Statham has been wavering as of late. His last two leading man action flicks haven’t produced great returns – Killer Elite: total gross of $25 million (with $9.35 in its opening weekend) and; Safe: total gross of $17.14 million (with $7.89 in its opening weekend). This time, though, he’s being paired with Jennifer Lopez, and the film could be a winner. We’ll see what happens, but I think it’ll make $9.4 million this weekend.
Here’s how I see the top 10:
1. Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters/ $19, 000, 000/ Paramount 2. Mama/ $16, 900, 000/ Universal 3. Movie 43/ $12, 500, 000/ Relativity 4. Zero Dark Thirty/ $9, 500, 000/ Sony 5. Parker/ $9, 400, 000/ FilmDistrict 6. Silver Linings Playbook/ $7, 300, 000/ Weinstein Company 7. Django Unchained/ $5, 000, 000/ Weinstein Company 8. Les Misérables/ $4, 800, 000/ Universal 9. Broken City/ $4, 300, 000/ Fox 10. Gangster Squad/ $4, 000, 000/ Warner Bros.
2012 saw some great films, and some real stinkers. I have seen 68 of them. These are my top 25 favourite films of 2012, and also the ten worst.
Oh and, some of these films don’t have the highest scores, but they’re higher up on the list. This is because some films (like The Hobbit) have grown on me a lot since I’ve seen them. Click on the title in the caption to get to review (and the titles in the ‘worst of’ list). Anyway, here’s the list, starting with #25:
Pitch Perfect is a fairly original (at least in cinema) and entertaining Glee-inspired musical comedy that may be predictable, but it’s a toe-tapping experience that has a fine plot, great music, some strange characters (most notably Lilly, a character who looks like that creepy big-eyed girl from Frankenweenie), show-stealing performers (like Bridesmaids‘ Rebel Wilson who portrays Fat Amy) and a memorable ensemble cast.
This is 40 is not quite as good as Knocked Up, but it’s a satisfying sort-of sequel. This is sometimes over-dramatic because of the numerous conflicts, but it is driven by fresh, laugh-out-loud comedy that helps Apatow get the message, of overcoming family differences and a mid-life crisis, across very well. Laughs, conflict, and advertisements for iPhones, Apple products, TV’s Lost, and a good role for Megan Fox are all present.
Ted‘s screenplay may be crowded but we must understand that MacFarlane’s comfort zone is a mere 22-minute slot, while this is a whole 112-minute feature. The end product turns out to be better than anyone would think a buddy comedy between a talking teddy bear and an immature man could be, and Wahlberg and Ted’s chemistry help make this one of the best buddy comedies of the year. I’m excited to see what else first-time director MacFarlane has in store for the silver screen, and I say bring on the sequel.
The film starts out fairly slow, but once the games come around the bend, it instantly becomes intensely engaging and entertaining. The screenplay maintains the fascinating theme of propaganda [and how corrupt the government may become], but doesn’t capture the extreme violence that we fans handled in the novel itself, and there isn’t quite enough bonding time with select characters. The adaptation is nonetheless great, and since it was not followed to a tee, there is room for surprise. Anyone who is willing to accept this fresh experience will enjoy it, as it is a promising beginning to a new teen franchise.
Rise of the Guardians is a slightly flawed, but wildly inventive, animated adventure that may have some deeply thematic material and action sequences that could be midly scary for small children. The main flaw is the disorganized beginning – but it finds its pace soon enough. The concept is a sort of edgy animated feature, but is a great end product. This is one of the most original animated features of the year, mainly because of the alterations to the beloved Guardians, like making Santa Claus look like a Russian biker, are very fresh. This is a great message to teach the kids this holiday season – don’t only believe in Santa around his season, also believe in all the other heroes, at least when their time comes around the bend.
The dialogue of this film allows characters to be thoroughly developed and compelling concepts to arise. When the characters aren’t talking, it gets engaging and thoroughly thrilling. The anti-climactic ending says Carnahan has learned to resist throwing full-throttle action at us, and he instead resists the urge and keeps the astounding and exciting survival film as tame as could be. The mostly unknown actors make the spotlight shine directly on the star: Liam Neeson.
Spielberg seems like, at this point in his career, is interested in making ambitious biopics instead of blockbusters like Jaws. The intelligent monologue-filled feature intricately throws information at you, and at times it can be quite a bit to absorb, but it is usually engaging. The cast of Lincoln is impressive, most notably Daniel Day-Lewis, who delivers a kind-hearted, endlessly charming performance that adds layers to one of the greatest figures in American history. Day-Lewis captures Lincoln’s will to get things done, and his genuine and kind self.
Killing Them Softly is a clever mafia tale of violence and despair with a great leading performance from Brad Pitt; with his mysterious character delivering us plenty of violence to keep us happy. This tale is also a social commentary on the local criminal economy in 2008, before Obama stepped into office – the concepts are complex, but there are not difficult to comprehend. The not-so-subtle message may be annoying to some, but the story is very engaging. It is a thought-provoking film brought to life by Andrew Dominik’s stylish and artistic direction.
The abrupt ending keeps this from being flawless, but this is a stellar crime story with intelligent writing by writer/director David Ayer (who previously wrote Training Day) with some of the best chemistry I have seen all year. End of Watch does for the real lives of cops what Ladder 49 did for fire fighters, but it’s about twenty-six times better.
Chronicle is one of the most surprisingly amazing features of 2012. The rushed pace is its main flaw, but it is an awesome experience for the 84 minutes it stays around. It obtains must-see status because of its thoroughly thematic and disturbing content. It is the most must-see found-footage feature of 2012, perhaps of all-time.
Seven Psychopaths has a clever screenplay and is a fantastic second feature from writer/directer Martin McDonagh. It is equal parts brutal, brilliant and hysterical. It is extremely memorable and has great characters and a superb ensemble cast. It is one of the most original screenplays of the year, and it’s another comedy that proves 2012 is one of the best for that genre.
The story may have ideas crammed in the feature, it undeniably has a very emotional core. If the actors weren’t singing the vast majority of their dialogue, the film wouldn’t be quite as exciting or engaging. This combines a great period piece with a profound musical, and it makes this one of the best features of the year.
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum create a superb chemistry, and this is one of the finest comedy ensembles of the year. The comedy is always funny, and this is the best action-comedy of the year. The real bite about this is that no one expected it to be very good, and yet, it is a hilarious and exciting ride.
Writer/director Christopher Nolan delivers us an impressive and atmospheric piece of cinema that has incredible thrills, great plot execution and great direction, character development that has room for improvement and a slow build-up that leads to an incredible climax. It is also a thoroughly impressive end to a great trilogy, it’s a slight step-down from the high standards set by The Dark Knight, but it is better than Batman Begins.
Skyfall is a compelling experience with great pacing, a great story and great humour. Javier Bardem is simply astounding. His presence is really worth the wait. He is one of the greatest criminal masterminds of recent memory, comparable to both Heath Ledger’s The Joker and Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal Lecter. He is the second best villain of the year, right behind Leonardo DiCaprio’s Calvin Candie in Django Unchained.
Looper offers an entertaining and memorable action experience with a great story and characters, making it a film that should be cherished. Looper is slightly flawed because of a sometimes crowded screenplay and numerous antagonists, but it has a complex story that’s surprisingly easy to follow, with great characters like Jeff Daniels’ nice-guy-ruthless-when-he-wants-to-be crime boss.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is a thoroughly satisfying start to a new Middle Earth trilogy. Its usually silly undertone may frustrate some, but to most, like myself, it makes for a great experience. The many expendable dwarfs may get a lot of the attention, but it is very much Bilbo Baggins’ show. That is until the show-stealing Gollum shows up for one of the best scenes of the feature. I cannot wait to see what the trilogy looks like when all of the films are released.
Life of Pi is interesting because it is not afraid to bring in concepts of faith and religion. It is also visually beautiful, sometimes funny, thought-provoking, magnificent, terrifying and saddening. There is also a great story, great direction, wonderful cinematography, great conflicts and relationships present. The actors bring it all to the table, and a short list of performers carries the film very well. This is one of the best films of the year that will be a large Oscar contender. If you’re going to see this, see it in its full 3D glory.
The drama is solid and the overall film if profoundly enjoyable, compelling, emotional, sometimes funny and often gripping. The suspenseful scene at the beginning is the only action scene in the feature, and it soon turns into a character study, with fascinating concepts of addiction. Those who find the concept of addiction fascinating will enjoy this even more.
Many may think it is simply just another teen slasher, but what gets thrown at you is surprising, extremely fresh and endlessly entertaining. This is one of the most original horror films of all time, with signature bites of comedy from Joss Whedon.
Wreck-It Ralph is the finest animated feature of 2012 and is generally one hell of a nostalgic and enjoyable film. This is like the Toy Story for a new generation. Disney has delivered us a great film yet again, and mashed two generally loved things together: their acclaimed animation, and video games. I had high expectations for this film, and this really rocked my world.
One of the most captivating things about the nerve-racking Argo is the boiling suspense of the situation, and the viewer can just feel it build throughout. Argo plays out like an assassin giving you his first choke-hold, he’s inexperienced and you may feel the grip loosening from time to time, but then it strengthens again and doesn’t let go until the very end.
Silver Linings Playbook is hilarious, beautiful, meaningful, sad, emotional, and very dramatic at times. It is a truly magnificent blend. One thing that helps the film is the impeccable writing by David O. Russell, and Matthew Quick who originally wrote the novel. The viewer may not be able to relate to the exact situation of these characters, but they could fully understand their motivations – and most may have felt similar emotions that these characters express on a daily basis.
The profound analysis of teenage angst is accurate, brilliantly touching, and heartbreakingly poignant. The performances are great, the story is awesome, and the atmosphere it offers is perfect. This is a film that I’d like to watch over and over. That’s one heck of a definition for an enjoyable experience. It’s a fine, under-seen classic of 2012 that can define a generation as well as John Hughes could. If it comes to your town, get off the couch, grab a few friends – but if you don’t have any, it’s okay to be a wallflower – and go see this movie!
Django Unchained is a modern masterpiece, and is Tarantino’s finest film yet (even if I’m the only one to think so). It’s a great story about survival and it has great themes of racism and slavery, that Tarantino explores expertly. The performances, the writing, the soundtrack the direction and the themes are all immaculate. Leonardo DiCaprio plays the best villain of the year.
The first weekend of 2013 had surprising earnings with Texas Chainsaw 3D, but great nonetheless. It won’t hold the top spot a second time, I think that’ll go to Zero Dark Thirty. Here are the new releases for the weekend:
Plot: Malcolm and Keisha move into their dream home, but soon learn a demon also resides there. When Kisha becomes possessed, Malcolm – determined to keep his sex life on track – turns to a priest, a psychic, and a team of ghost-busters for help.
Marlon Wayans brings us a feature that parodies popular horror films months before Scary Movie 5, a series he and his brother started. I’m not sure if Wayans is attempting to reinvent the parody genre, but if anyone can do it, it might just be him. Even though I laughed once at the trailer. It won’t be as big a hit as Scary Movie, but it’ll certainly be better than anything those idiots Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer (Disaster Movie, Meet the Spartans) can dish out to the unsuspecting public. The opening weekends of the Scary Movie have faced a range between $20.5 million (with the second installment) and $48.1 million (with the third installment). And the Friedberg/Seltzer films’ opening weekend range from $5.8 million (Disaster Movie) to $18.6 million (Epic Movie). Anyway, I think A Haunted House will gross higher than Disaster Movie, but lower than Epic Movie. It’ll be somewhere in the middle.
A.H.H. Box Office Prediction: $10, 500, 000
Plot: A chronicle of the LAPD’s fight to keep East Coast Mafia types out of Los Angeles in the 1940s and 50s.
The real attraction of Gangster Squad is its true crime story vibe and its ensemble cast (including Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin, Emma Stone, Sean Penn). It will also be interesting to see comedy director Ruben Fleischer (30 Minutes or Less and Zombieland) direct this cast, and what he’d do with this 1949 crime drama. A similar film to this, American Gangster, grossed $43.5 million its opening weekend and the other crime drama in theaters right now, Jack Reacher, grossed $15.2 million its opening weekend. I don’t think it’s very realistic that it would gross close to American Gangster’s number, but it will most likely make more money than Jack Reacher.
G.S. Box Office Prediction: $21, 000, 000
Plot: At a home for retired opera singers, the annual concert to celebrate Verdi’s birthday is disrupted by the arrival of Jean, an eternal diva and the former wife of one of the residents.
The limited release of the weekend, Quartet comes to a mere two theaters. This is Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut, and it is a comedy that mostly appeals to adults that makes me think of 2011’s Hope Springs and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
Quartet Box Office Prediction: $16, 000
Plot: A chronicle of the decade-long hunt for al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden after the September 2001 attacks, and his death at the hands of the Navy S.E.A.L. Team 6 in May, 2011.
It sure is the greatest manhunt in history. Zero Dark Thirty also seems like an incredible film to watch unfold. Kathryn Bigelow is the director to take on this project. It’s already made $4.6 million, and now it’s going wide. Right after the Oscar nominations are being released tomorrow. The Hurt Locker grossed $17 million, but it wasn’t a very wide release. This is going to gross more in its (wide) opening weekend than T.H.L. grossed in its entire run.
Z.D.T. Box Office Prediction: $23, 500, 000
The holdovers of Django Unchained and Les Mis shouldn’t drop severely because of the Oscar nominations tomorrow. Here’s how I see the top 10:
Plot: A young woman travels to Texas to collect an inheritance; little does she know that an encounter with a chainsaw-wielding killer is part of the reward.
The world has seen many films revolving around the the Sawyer family legacy. This is the first wide release for Leatherface in quite some time, so horror fans will most likely be lining up to see this. I’ll be seeing it this weekend if I have time (The Impossible and Promised Land are higher priority for me).
Based on the original stage production of the same name, this tells the story of a slave prisoner who skips on his parole, Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman). Throughout his life, a police inspector, Javert (Russell Crowe), is close on his tail. After Valjean vows to a factory worker by the name of Fantine (Anne Hathaway) to take care of her daughter, Cosette, his life is changed forever.
I have not seen the original play, and I hadn’t even heard of the play before seeing this feature. Does that mean I live under a rock? Not really, but if I did, it would be a really fancy rock. Anyway, all the knowledge I had of this film going in was the slim plot synopsis on IMDb, and I saw a few of the trailers.
Expectations: exceeded. This is a fine feature that has superb direction, great costumes, a beautiful yet heartbreaking story, and one heck of an ensemble cast. The cinematography is fine (there’s a scene that’s hard on the eyes), and with the actor’s legitimate singing voices complementing the film and its phenomenal imagery, it might as well feel like the real on-stage production.
The only thing that makes it not feel like the actual on-stage production is all the information that comes at you. With a stage production, there would be short breaks to change sets and let the audience absorb what just happened; but this goes from set to set, and time period to new time period. This poor transition of scenes makes it feel like there’s a lot more to absorb. In a way, this is much like ‘Lincoln’ earlier this year, that film just shot information at you (even though this isn’t as bad).
One more thing that feels off about the film: the make-up. The costume design is stellar, but some characters are neglected regarding make-up because they don’t look like they age a day. They make Jackman look a little more older and exhausted as it goes along, and he looks like his hair has grayed; but Crowe doesn’t look as if he’s getting any older, over a span of seventeen years (or however many it is). He looks exactly the same. The same with the “comic relief” innkeepers (Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter), they really don’t age.
The story is all about never giving up and searching for freedom wherever it may present itself. It’s also a great analysis of the survival of the human spirit, and the things it trudges along through. Though, the message gets slightly preachy. It feels more preachy than it is because they’re singing it to you! They sing to you all about revolutions because of poverty and searching for that said freedom, finding love, and it’s also a story about self-sacrifice and redemption. However, I was willing to accept it for what it is.
Valjean is a man really about always starting over and making it a clean slate for himself. I mean, he gets enslaved for nineteen years because he stole a loaf of bread. He soon highly becomes consumed with just protecting Cosette (Amanda Seyfried), the young girl who has become a daughter to him. All the other characters are pretty great, especially the villain you love to hate – Javert. He’s a good singer too, as is everyone else involved in this project. He is a man who lives by the law, despite all the times Valjean (who Javert usually refers to as Prisoner 24601, a number you won’t soon forget) tries to convince him to have a heart and let him go.
The only irritating character is a young boy named Gavroche, a petite thing part of the young people revolution. I understand that, at his core, the face of innocence – he’s just really, really, stupid.
Fantine is a character that really helps him [Valjean] change even further. She and he didn’t realize, that at the time, her asking him to take care of Cosette would be a life-changing experience for him. Fantine is a desperate woman trying to care for her daughter in a time of poverty, and her story is truly heartbreaking. She steals the scenes she is in with an Oscar-worthy performance (Jackman is also worthy of an Oscar), but the other performers are great, and they each capture the emotions they are supposed to, and they each sing with great heart. The ensemble make it that much more enjoyable. The young Eddie Redmayne shows some strong potential for more leading man roles, as he is one heck of a singer and a great actor. He also proves other people besides fat ladies can have a solid operatic voice.
While the story is slightly preachy, it undeniably has a very emotional core, making this one of the most emotionally vast films of 2012. The story is truly great, but it is definitely not the feel-good flick of the year. Each of the primary characters don’t want to be held back any longer, and live a better life than what they know. If the actors weren’t singing the vast majority of their dialogue, the film wouldn’t be quite as exciting. I am a sucker for period pieces, and now, I’m a sucker for this sort of profound musical.
In a nutshell: Les Misérables has a slightly preachy story, but it has a fine emotional core and a great set of characters and great actors that sweep you up into the sad story even more. You might as well be watching the on-stage production itself.