Today we’re doing our regular rounding up of the pick of the week’s US cinematic releases to see what’s worth a visit to the local multiplex, what’s probably best left to a later viewing at home and what’s not worth wasting your precious time at all… Love it – or leave it!
THE BFG – dir. Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg is back with a fresh adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic THE BFG, of which Hope Madden emphatically declares that ‘in an era when the third dimension is thrown around the multiplex with needless abandon, THE BFG stands out.’ She continues, ‘Spielberg bridges live action and motion-capture animation with a stunningly articulated fantasy world that captures you from the film’s opening moments.’ Mark Rylance ‘proves as capable with giant gibberish and motion-capture performance’ and is ‘a more endearing giant you’re never likely to find, as Rylance conveys BFG’s tumult of emotions.’ Ruby Bunrhill ‘believably maneuvers between precocious loner and lonesome child with ease’. However, ‘Spielberg’s problem – or Dahl’s – is lack of momentum’ as the director’s ‘take on the story amplifies the relationship and relatedness between Sophie and BFG, but he under-develops the tension and mostly avoids the action.’ In summing her ☆☆☆1/2 review, Hope writes that THE BFG is ‘a sweet film, finely acted and gorgeously brought to life’.
THE LEGEND OF TARZAN – dir. David Yates
George Wolf writes of THE LEGEND OF TARZAN that ‘this new reboot takes its cue from recent superhero films that have embraced the darker side of their legends’. Director David Yates, ‘keeps his camera fluid, his landscapes beautifully panoramic and the action frequently thrilling’, yet ‘it gets a bit silly and a bit more anachronistic’. Of the performances, Alexadner Skarsgard ‘looks the part, and his somewhat robotic lack of range serves him well here’ whilst Margot Robbie ‘provides plenty of spunk, but her Victorian-era Jane could have just as easily beamed down from last Halloween’. In summary, ‘It probably won’t set the stage for a string of blockbuster sequels – and to its credit, isn’t trying to – but for most of its nearly two hours, this new Tarzan really swings’, read George’s ☆☆☆ review here.
THE PURGE: ELECTION YEAR – dir. James DeMonaco
Hope Madden writes of THE PURGE: ELECTION YEAR, director James DeMonaco’s third outing in the series, that he ‘throws every piece of contemporary political filth at the screen while leading this franchise to its reasonably logical conclusion’. Everything’s on show here, ‘Murder tourism, entitled teens with a hunger for gore and chocolate, one-percenters literally worshipping at the altar of death, religious zealots preaching the divinity of slaughtering the under-privileged and the women who would defy them – you will find it all’. Despite the all-out mayhem, Hope praises Mykelti Williamson who ‘owns every scene as Joe Dixon, a deli owner guarding his business from the rooftop with his shotgun and his loyal employee Marcos.’ and is quick to assert that ‘the overt racial tensions that fuel DeMonaco’s script as well as the yearly purge, it’s appropriate that the strongest characters be those of color.’ The third film is ‘a mish-mash of ideas stolen from other, better films as well as Fox News, the effort amplifies the lunacy of the current political climate, reaching a level of hyperbole and mania that should feel more cathartic than it does.’ Read Hope’s ☆☆1/2 review.
SWISS ARMY MAN – dir. Daniels
The odd plot of SWISS ARMY MAN ‘sets its off-kilter tone early, and then things get weird. Fart-powered motor boat weird’. The debuting duo of Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, aka “Daniels”, craft ‘a wild, imaginative odyssey alive with color and wonderful set pieces’, it has ‘abundant charm, occasional hilarity and a few moments of magic’, but the directors’ ambition is ‘always two steps ahead of their scriptwriting depth’. George Madden draws comparisons, saying ‘this is a film that will tweak your curiosity as often as it tests your patience, and the BIRDMAN-style ending may leave you struggling to come up with any reaction other than “that was weird,” but you will be entertained’. Of the two leading men, Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe, the two ‘complement each other well’, ‘delivering committed performances that turn Hank and Manny into some sort of bizarro Don Quixote and Sancho Panza’. Read George’s ☆☆☆ review here.
FILM OF THE WEEK: THE BFG