Tuesday, April 30, 2013

One Minute Movie Review: Lincoln

This, by far, may be one of Spielberg's greatest accomplishments as it powerfully and eloquently portrays the finest President of our exceptional nation, a man who defined integrity, strength, conviction decided statesmanship, and his dedication to the proposition that all men are created equal.   Oh, how we long for such leaders today.  It is also Daniel Day Lewis crowning performance as he has forever identified himself with Lincoln as no one else has or could.  Forever engraving in the audience a picture of this extraordinary leader that will have no equal earning him an overwhelmingly deserved Oscar.    The remaining cast is superb, playing off each other with profound authenticity and depth.   Whether it's Field's endearing, but tragic Molly or Jones' unwavering and uncompromising abolitionist, every member of this troop gives everything leaving nothing on the table and it radiates on screen.  Unfortunately, the unnecessary amount of misplaced profanity lessens this otherwise awe inspiring picture.   Based partly on Doris Kearns Goodwin's biography Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, the story is heavy and quite lengthy, but utterly immerses the viewer in all the possible and actual trials and tribulations required to pass the 13th Amendment   With less of a focus on the war and quest for peace, Lincoln, sets its sights on the moving interpersonal relationships that both adamantly supported and bitterly opposed this historic moment of freedom.    The plot is magnificently supported by a haunting score, masterful costume design, and sweeping cinematography.  Lest we forget what freedom is, and the cost in striving for it, we will surely lose it.  4 out of 5 Kernels; a movie for the ages about a President who defined everything that was and is great about our country and reminds us all about the significance and importance of true character.  

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

One Minute Movie Review: Zero Dark Thirty

A gritty docudrama that takes a hard, dark, and some what embellished look at the days leading up to the death of worldwide terrorist leader, and embodiment of pure evil, Osama Bin Laden.  Kathryn Bigelow, the Oscar winning director of the powerful and poignant Hurt Locker, brings us her next military cinematic venture which attempts to successfully season a recipe of sporadic facts with a believable sprinkle of dramatic flair.   That concoction works for the most part, minus a few cliches and over the top performances.   The cast plays off each other nicely, with only a few moments of excessive F-bombs and over dramatics.  The biggest flaw is the run time, 157 minutes, and you feel each one of them tick away.   I know it takes a long time to tell a story like this and Bigelow does not take one second for granted.  However, despite it's noticeable length, it is a riveting story that grabs you at onset and refuses to let go until the credits roll.   It also portrays our military men and women in a positive light, not a typical Holly-weird standard but refreshing none the less.  The CIA, on the other hand, is played as authentic as I think you can get, and it is up to the audience to determine how effective they truly were in their pursuit of the deadliest man on the planet.   Also up for personal interpretation is the effectiveness of enhanced interrogation as it is thoroughly demonstrated for a good part of the film, although there is a noticeable slant by the writer and director.  We will never know all the facts regarding what happened that fateful night or even all the intelligence leading up to it, but Bigelow lays out a compelling story line that is both captivating and enraging.   4 out of 5 Kernels: It hits almost all the right marks but takes a long time to reach its target.  

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

One Minute Movie Review: Rise of the Guardians

Peter Ramsey, in his directorial debut, brings us a magical tale rebooting many of the traditional holiday characters in a fun, unique, and exciting way.  The story is remarkably creative despite the fact that most of these celebrated icons' tales have been spun out ad nauseam.  Chris Pine, the new Captain Kirk, voices one of the most underplayed of these, Jack Frost, giving the lesser known fable a fresh face and contemporary flair.  Baldwin provides a Santa with attitude and Fisher's Tooth fairy is eccentrically delightful.   However, it is Jackman's Aussie style Easter bunny that positively steals the show.  Rounding out the cast is Law's villain, who is both creepy and stylish, but seriously underwhelming.   His performance never comes close to the energy and excitement of his other cast mates.   The plot is easy for the kids to understand and engaging enough for their parental counterpoints to enjoy.  Somewhat scary, in parts, for the real young set, but overall a terrific message of courage and childlike faith.  3 out of 5 Kernels: it may never be a holiday classic, but certainly an endearing little flick.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

One Minute Movie Review: The Vow

For a rookie director, this was not a terrible outing.  For Channing Tatum, not one of my favorite actors, it is probably the best performance of his career to date.  For a film based loosely off of a true story, it plays well, and the elaborations required to fill any plot gaps are quite reasonable and believable    It is a chick flick, however, so expect some level of sappiness, however, it is well scripted and acted.  The chemistry between McAdams and Tatum is genuine and endearing.  The story is engaging and surprisingly, somewhat unpredictable.  The remaining cast is a bit shallow and type cast, but they do the best they can with what little crumbs that are left by the presence and potency of the leading team.   The side story is solid but too abbreviated, so it doesn't truly enhance the overall product.   3 out of 5 Kernels; not one I would re watch, but for a romantic one nighter, it delivers for the most part.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

One Minute Movie Review: Oz The Great and Powerful

Sam Raimi, who has had an illustrious career to date with 20 movies to his name ranging from one of the most classic tongue in cheek horror series to chick flicks and sentimental fare most recently resurrecting the comic icon wall crawler brings us the rare instance where a prequel is worthy of its original.    Victor Fleming would have applauded Raimi's effort in telling the tale of Oz's fabled entrance into L. Frank Baum's innovative realm of wonder and woe.   I am not a huge fan in any way shape or form of Franco, but he provides a satisfactory performance, mostly mechanical but occasionally finding a symbiosis with his character.  However, there is a plethora of actors with far more talent that could have added the appropriate dimensions and whimsy to the role.   Kunis, Weisz, and Williams, on the other hand, knock it out of the park as the three witches.  Their performances are as dazzling as the incredible CGI effects that Raimi utilized to bring the wonderful world of Oz to brilliant and beautiful life.  His vision is stunning, to say the least, like Avatar meets Willy Wonka in vibrant color, sweep, and spectrum.   For the kiddies, don't look for any musical numbers that made the original so endearing and it is a bit  scarier than the 1939 cinematic legend, but don't allow those factors prevent you from taking the rug-rats on this magical journey.  Look for some unique Easter eggs, foreshadowing, and an appearance by Raimi alumni Bruce Campbell.   3 out of 5 Kernels:  A movie with brains, heart, and nerve minus any fancy footwear.