Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Based off of the book series which I never intend on reading, the first installment was a good little flick, heavy on the FX, light on the acting, but somewhat interesting as a definitive tween focused take on the mythology. So I didn't expect much out of the sequel. This time out director, Thor Freudenthal, know for such blockbuster hits as Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Hotel for Dogs (sarcasm alert), tries his hand at the franchise. To keep it simple, this is a kids' film by all accounts just with a bit more maturity and severely overloaded with CGI. The plot is intriguing and, again, the modernized take on the Greek legends is engaging even for the anyone above twelve year old demographic. However, the performances do not rise to the occasion actually feeling quite stale to the point where even the actors seem bored in and with most of their scenes. High energy from the cast is absolutely required in these type of flicks in order to capture this generations' gnat like attention spans and that is immediately absent here. It is a shame, if the cast would have stepped it up, with all the remaining factors in place, this might have been a fairly cool film. 2 out of 5 Kernels: doesn't quite descend to the level of Hades, but still barely scratches the surface of its potential.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Since many of the facts of this "based on a true story," movie that chronicles one of the most dreadfully suspenseful hostage crises of the current decade, are in somewhat of a dispute, I will purely focus on the filmmakers interpretation of the events & storytelling, imagery, & cast performances that bring that perception to life. Director, Paul Greengrass is no stranger to the political thriller & already has many major titles to his credit, Bourne Ultimatum, Bourne Supremacy, & Bloody Sunday. The challenge of this film, like so many others like it, is that we already know the ending, so keeping the story fresh, exciting, &, dare I say, original & unpredictable is a very tall, mostly unsuccessful order. However, Greengrass is able to accomplish this difficult goal & more. His victory is achieved, in one part, by a dynamic, fluid, authentic, & thoroughly engaging, tension filled delivery of a well written script. The second, is the absolutely stellar performance of its entire cast, led most definitively by Hanks. Despite my utter disdain for his political views, Hanks is, undoubtedly, one of the finest actors of our generation. His performance is inspired, deeply passionate, & completely believable. Never has a film with such a publicized outcome, kept me on the edge of my seat, riveted to the screen, & emotionally moved. I am also proud to report, this is one of the finest portrayals of our brave service men & women that I have seen. No matter what the whole story may be, this film is an amazing tale of bravery, heroics, & strength of spirit. 5 out of 5 Kernels: A tremendous real life act of courage under unbelievable circumstances & an equally amazing & vivid cinematic portrayal of that courage.
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
The account of the JFK assassination, which is one of the most pivotal & tragic moments in US history, has been recreated to a point of ad nauseam, examined from nearly every conceivable angle & perspective, & cycled through any & all plausible to downright ludicrous conspiracy theories, with very little left of the story to tell in a new, fresh, or innovative way. Then along comes author Vincent Bugliosi & this feature, based on his novels, Reclaiming History & The Assassination of President John F Kennedy, & completely shatters my prior statement. This picture, directed by Peter Landesman, his debut in the big chair, by the way, brings us several differing but acutely focused & emotionally charged vantage points ranging from the hospital staff that treated Kennedy in his final moments, to Zapruder, the man who took the most famous & infamous 8 mm film in history, to the team of loyal, almost zealous, Secret Service agents, & finally the Oswald family, zeroing in on Lee's brother & his reaction to the consequences to one of the darkest day's in our collective memory. The storytelling is majestic with acting, by this stellar cast, that is inspired and deeply authentic. It is filmed like a docudrama, with a scope & sweep that is so genuine, realistic, & moving that it is, at times, difficult to watch. To single out one performance is futile, as every character, whether main or supporting, has a powerful & lasting impact for whatever length they serve on the silver screen. An absolute masterpiece of a movie that brings you into the midst of the tragedy itself & its gut-wrenching aftermath. 5 out 5 Kernels: without a doubt one of the best films of 2013 that you may have never known existed.