Worth a Look

These are worth a look, but wait for the DVD?

Barkhad Abdi, Somali-American
 who auditioned for the role opposite Hanks
CAPTAIN PHILLIPS — DEPTH 2, ACTING 3 (End scene with Tom Hanks in complete shock is worth the price of the ticket), PLOT 3, ORIGINALITY 3, PRODUCTION 3, AESTHETIC/VISUAL 3, ENTERTAINMENT 3, DEMAND ON VIEWER Moderate (not for children even though PG-13).

What was it about this film that made it slightly boring? The inevitability of the end? The plodding soundtrack? The brute let's-get-the-job-done Navy Seals? The feeling of seeing Tom Hanks too much? One redeeming quality of the film is its portrayal of the somali pirates. They are ignorant boys with nothing to look up to, nowhere to go, desperate to please their warlord clan bosses. The film achieves a fair amount of sympathy for the pirate captain. "There must be something more than this," Hanks' character asks, and the captain responds, "Maybe in America, maybe in America."

THOR, THE DARK WORLD — DEPTH 1, ACTING 2 (Even the great one himself, Anthony Hopkins, not so good here.), PLOT 3, ORIGINALITY 2, PRODUCTION 4, AESTHETIC/VISUAL 4, ENTERTAINMENT 4, DEMAND ON VIEWER Mild (This one really is ok for kids.) What can I say, this is a comic book story. The characters are flat, the dialogue is unmemorable, and the story misses several chances to become intriguing, complex or penetrating. The visuals are extraordinary, especially the design of the enemy ships, and an especially striking villain played by none other than Christopher Eccleston, of Dr. Who.

THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES — Two halves of this film don't really fit together, but Ryan Gosling is as good as ever. Very intense, and a commentary on the way society chooses its "good boys."

END OF WATCH — Very entertaining film. The macho bravado is a bit much, but the electric dynamic between the two cops (Jake Gyllenhall, Michael Pena) is great, especially when they start laughing together. A rare duo.

STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS — Everyone wants to be Dark Knight! Just look at the design of the poster—almost an exact replicate. So many comic book films with "Dark" in the title and a theme of exploring the "underside" of things (though they don't really.) A tribute to Christopher Nolan's vision, right down to the pulsing strings in the soundtrack. Entertaining though, and hooked my kids into the Star Trek world (is this a good thing?)

MAN OF STEEL — If one more building was shown blowing up or falling down at the end of this one... Not a notable contribution to the Superman line. WITH ONE NOTABLE EXCEPTION, however, the portrayal of the two fathers, with Kevin Costner cast in a kind of Field-of-Dreams reprise role.

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