The Movie Snob goes to the movies. And regrets it.
The Legend of Tarzan (F). If you see only one critically panned action movie starring Margot Robbie this summer . . . see Suicide Squad. I haven’t seen it myself, but it has to be better than this stinkbomb.
As our story begins, Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgård, Zoolander) has long been civilized into Lord Greystoke and lives in some Downton Abbey looking manor with his wife Jane (Robbie, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot). He is persuaded to return to his old ‘hood in the Congo by an American fellow (Samuel L. Jackson, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith) who thinks that the colonizing Belgians might be enslaving the locals. But the American is unwittingly part of a trap being set by Belgian King Leopold’s nefarious agent Leon Rom (Christoph Waltz, Spectre), who needs to lure Tarzan to the jungle for reasons of his own. So most of the movie consists of Tarzan’s attempts to rescue the hapless Jane (who spends most of the movie in Rom’s clutches, chained to the rail of a Congolese steamboat), some okay flashbacks to Tarzan’s humble origins as an adopted gorilla, and some ridiculous action sequences. I probably would have given this charmless film a D if the director (David Yates, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I) hadn’t thrown in a couple of anti-Catholic bits. The villainous Rom uses a rosary as a murder weapon, and Robbie’s character insinuates that he was abused as a child by a Catholic priest. Wholly unnecessary, and offensive enough to drag this otherwise lame movie completely off the rails into the abyss.
From the desk of The Movie Snob.
Spectre (B+). This is my favorite James Bond film in a long time. Although it is about two and half hours long, I never looked at my watch. The opening action sequence, set in Mexico City on the Day of the Dead, had me on the edge of my seat, and really all of the action sequences held my interest very well. Daniel Craig (The Invasion) seems completely at home as 007. Although I have apparently seen this installment’s “Bond girl,” Léa Seydoux, in a couple of movies (The Grand Budapest Hotel, Midnight in Paris), I have no memory of her in those films. Here, however, I thought she was quite memorable. I didn’t think Christoph Waltz (Big Eyes) was given enough room to stretch his legs as the head villain, but he did what he could with his few minutes of screen time. I’ll be interested to see if Craig signs on for another installment. I saw somewhere that Spectre has grossed over $800 million worldwide, so I have to think he’d be welcome.
The Movie Snob submits his last review of 2014.
Big Eyes (B). Director Tim Burton (Corpse Bride) delivers perhaps his most normal movie to date—although the people at the center of Big Eyes are anything but normal. Indeed, this based-on-a-true-story movie reminded me a little of The Informant!, which left me thinking, “Did people really do these crazy things? Really?” This the story of Margaret and Walter Keane, who met in late 1950s San Francisco and got married. Margaret (Amy Adams, The Fighter) was an amateur painter who liked to paint pictures of small children with unusually large eyes. Walter (Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained), a slick promoter, makes Margaret’s paintings famous, and eventually the paintings make them rich. The problem is that Walter is a compulsive liar and tells everyone that they’re his paintings. Why did Margaret go along with the sham? And why did she stay with Walter, who is portrayed in the film as pretty seriously unhinged? The movie doesn’t really get at the answers to those questions, probably because there are no good answers. There are a few recognizable actors in small roles (Danny Huston, Wrath of the Titans; Jason Schwartzman, Moonrise Kingdom), but it is Adams and Waltz’s movie. I enjoyed it, and I’ll be curious to see if the Academy shows Adams and Waltz some love for their solid performances.