Thursday, October 25, 2012
If the goal of Craig Brewer, was to make us all appreciate the original Bacon/Lithgow production, mission accomplished. However, I don't believe the director of such blockbuster hits as Hustle and Flow and Black Snake Moan, note the sarcasm there, had that in mind. This is possibly the worst reboot, remake, or whatever you wish to classify it as, that I have ever had the displeasure of sitting through. It was so amateurish it was almost blasphemy to the classic which may have seemed corny in the 80's but looks like a masterpiece compared to this disaster. Bacon brought Ren MacCormick to life with his own brand of James Dean light while Lithgow's famous, or infamous, preacher character has yet to be bested on the silver screen. Who can forget his “Rock and Roll sermon,” or Bacon’s town hall dissertation on dance? Don’t look for those never forget moments to reappear in the remake; they were either removed or watered down so badly they nearly drowned. The remaining cast of the 80's over the top guilty pleasure created an extraordinary ensemble that you connected with, rooted for, and related to. In this MTV epic fail, the characters are stale, hollow, and mere shadows of their predecessors mechanically spewing lines from the original with all the passion and energy of an Al Gore symposium on global warming. Actors and I use the term loosely, Wormald, Hough, and the remaining modern cast give less than High School play performances that border between absurdity and boredom. Even the Willard character, who in the original was a stocky Quaid brother, is replaced by, what can only be described as the red neck Skreech. Dennis Quaid fully drains the pastor character of any vigor and interest worst than a B List Twilight vampire on a prom date. McDowell phones in her mom performance like she owns stock in AT&T. Gone is the family element and conflict in the first film traded in for an entirely lackluster subplot that seems to be awkwardly inserted as a space filler rather than a story driver. Even the relationship between the current versions of Ren and Ariel is rushed and so uninteresting that the film becomes a series of second hand Step It Up Dance Moves and tired attempts to "refresh" the dialogue from the original than a story of teen angst and overbearing ideologies. If I am giving the first flick to much credit, you have to give me a pass; it deserves a Mulligan after the insult delivered by this abomination. There is no emotion, no drama, no humanity, as if the cast is reading stereo instructions rather than genuinely trying to capture the essence of the story and players. It went from a story of finding balance and fitting in, to a cheap shot at religion and small towns. I couldn't wait for it to end so I could re watch the first version and cleanse the distaste from my visual palette. 0 out of 5 Kernels; this Footloose stepped in something and it stunk throughout the whole film.
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Very rarely does a sequel do its predecessor justice, let alone a third installment. Most of the time you are barraged by a lot of hype but remarkably little is delivered. This is one of the unique exceptions to the rule providing the quirkiest, funniest, and most elaborate of the three. It is without a doubt, both an exciting and enjoyable conclusion to one of the most entertaining in the league of children's CGI features. Stiller is one of the most overrated so called comedians of our time, beating out Sandler, Hill, Black, and Galifianakis. He has made epic fail after epic fail and has earned a hefty paycheck in the process. As a long forgotten funny Russian once said, "Only in America, what a country." With that said, his only triumph has been voicing the animated Alex the Lion. The remaining cast Rock, Schwimmer, Smith, and Cohen turn in their best performances of the franchise creating a fun and engaging adventure that takes humor, slapstick, and neon to a whole new level. Add in a great moral about never giving up and where home truly is, and you have a definitive entry into the top ten of animated flicks. 3 out of 5 Kernels; I just hope I can get that ridiculous Afro Circus song out of my head.
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Tim Allen is one of my favorite comedians and, of course, the quintessential movie Santa of all time, as a narrator, not so much. Although this film hearkens to the classic documentaries of the Disney TV of old, Allen's voice over sounds clunky and misplaced, rather than cohesive and entertaining. With that said, the film is breathtaking in scope, as the Mighty Mouse has taken the documentary to new levels of completely stunning cinematography. The story is absolutely endearing and my family was completely engrossed, privileged to be invited into this rare glimpse of a miraculous adoption. If only as human families, we were so dedicated to our own children and loved ones. For me, it was an utter testimony to the perfect and marvelous hand of our Creator who designed a world that is filled with mind boggling wonders. For my children, a deep look into the inner workings of the natural world. A feat only achieved, to this degree, thanks to the dedication and risk of special individuals who still see the fascination and awe of this truly majestic planet. A great film to educate and entertain. 3 out of 5 Kernels; this movie will steal your heart, open your eyes, and electrify the imagination.
Monday, October 8, 2012
Who would have thought that an animated feature would resurrect Adam Sandler's decaying career (has anyone seen 8 Crazy Nights, if you have, you have my sincerest sympathy). This film is an absolute treat, with quick and nimble, tongue in cheek wit, a heartwarming plot (nothing new or orginal, but a sweet take on a kiddie film standard), and engaging characters that breathe new life into some old monsters. Sandler is endearing as the Drac dad and James, Buscemi, Spade, and Green round out an entertaining and genuinely funny ensemble (which was, an epic miss in Sandler's unfortunate Grown Ups flick). The timing and chemistry are flawless, hitting every comedy mark and warm and fuzzy moment. The animation is superb, one of the best of the neverending CGI barrage, and the story moves swiftly and fluidly. It was a decisive win for my kids and all the parental units in the audience. Don't think Bambi or Lion King, but a definitive challenger to the Toy Story and Cars franchises. A great way to have your kids learn to laugh at their fears, ala Monsters Inc. 4 out of 5 Kernels; me actually liking a Sandler outing, now that is truly frightening.
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Jason Statham has quickly become the new standard bearer of the modern action hero, a cross between Steve McQueen, Bruce Lee, and Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry. Every film is a new achievement in martial arts skill and choreography, scenes that would make John Woo weep tears of ecstasy. What gives Statham the edge above others of his ilk is his ability to actually act. He is certainly no Sir John Gielgud, James Dean, or Marlon Brando, but he is far and away more talented than any of his competitors. He has also had a series of pretty decent flicks with very few miss steps on his resume. Safe is no exception. However, unlike his other adrenaline driven romps, this film has a substantial and engaging plot that forsakes the foreseeable as an ultra gritty, ultra violent thriller that has a distinctive and soemwhat realistic conclusion. Unfortunately, the remaining company has little acting prowess, and Statham is forced to carry the entire cast and movie. The script keeps moving because Statham won't let it stand still for a second, his character shifting flawlessly and fluidly from a haunted and abused recluse to superhero, a feat I would not have expected, but somehow Statham pulls off. The twists and turns are sufficient, not extraordinary, but the pace and scope keeps you interested and entertained. Again, the fight sequences are the highlights, and there is a plethora of them. 3 out of 5 Kernels; stylish, edgy, dark, and with a noticeable amount of substance, Safe plays it anything but.