Dunkirk

From the desk of The Movie Snob.

Dunkirk  (B+).  Having recently read a newish history of WWII, I definitely wanted to see Christopher Nolan’s movie about the 1940 evacuation of 338,000 Allied troops from the beaches of Dunkirk, France.  It’s a pretty effective ground-and-ocean-eye view (except for a few scenes involving a heroic RAF fighter pilot played by Tom Hardy, Mad Max: Fury Road) of those events.  Much of the movie follows a nameless British soldier who is desperate to escape back to England and is not entirely scrupulous about how to do it.  860 civilian vessels took part in the evacuation, and so we also get to follow one of them, a smallish boat called Moonstone captained by an older gent named Mr. Dawson (Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies).  Things get tense fast when Dawson picks up a lone soldier from a wrecked ship, and the shell-shocked soldier (Cillian Murphy, The Dark Knight) freaks out when he realizes the boat is heading towards Dunkirk instead of England.  Kenneth Branagh (My Week with Marilyn) pops up in a few scenes as a high-ranking British guy stuck on the beach with his army.  I enjoyed it.  For another view, calling it an “astonishing filmmaking achievement and an epic narrative failure,” you can click here.

Interstellar

New from The Movie Snob.

Interstellar  (B+).  Director Chris Nolan (Inception) is back with another big-concept movie.  I can’t say too much about the plot for fear of spoilers, but almost a month into the film’s release I think I can safely say it is about astronauts searching for habitable worlds other than Earth because Earth itself is getting increasingly less habitable as the 21st century goes on.  Matthew McConaughey (Mud) plays the lead astronaut on the mission, while Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables) plays some other scientist-type member of the crew.  More than that, I cannot say.  I definitely enjoyed it; although the run time is 169 minutes, I never got bored or looked at my watch.  But I can’t quite give it an “A” grade because there’s just too much stuff that left me scratching my head and thinking, “Huh?”  I understand that Nolan tried to stick to the known rules of science in creating the movie, but he gets into some pretty far-out theoretical physics along the way.  As long as I turned my brain off and focused on the spectacle, I liked it just fine.  If you’re into sci-fi, and especially if you enjoyed 2001: A Space Odyssey, you will probably enjoy this movie.

Inception

New review from The Movie Snob

Inception (B). It is a tribute to the director of this sci-fi/action movie that it doesn’t feel nearly as long at its 148-minute run time would suggest. Leonardo DiCaprio (Shutter Island) plays a fugitive criminal named Cobb whose specialty is stealing corporate secrets by invading the dreams of those in possession of those secrets. He gets hired for a job that’s a twist on the standard operation: a corporate bigwig wants him to invade the dreams of another corporate bigwig and plant an idea so subtly that he’ll think it’s his own. Cobb assembles his team, and they go to work. Matters are complicated because Cobb’s dead wife is so entrenched in his own subconscious that she has a way of turning up in the middle of delicate operations. There are lots of crazy special effects, including the one I think they showed in the trailers in which the city of Paris folds up and onto itself. I’m not very good at following movies like this, where you’re never sure what’s real and what’s not, but I just went along for the ride & enjoyed it just fine.

The Dark Knight

New review from The Movie Snob

The Dark Knight (B). As they say, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Sure there are exceptions for stuff like love, a baby’s smile, or Nicole Kidman. But most good things pall if you get too much of them, and this movie falls into that category. To be sure, Heath Ledger (Monster’s Ball) is riveting as The Joker. Christian Bale (American Hustle) is fine as the caped crusader. The action sequences are terrific, and some characters meet surprising fates. But at 152 minutes, it is just too much. For the last 20 or 30 minutes, I started wondering just where The Joker could possibly get that much dynamite and that many hired goons. My friend, CBG, once opined that the increasing length of action movies can be traced to The Return of the King, but it seems to go back much further to me. From that first Batman with Michael Keaton (Birdman), it seems to me that the trend has been more of everything–more villains, more explosions, and more minutes. The Dark Knight is like two very good action movies, played back-to-back and only slightly compressed. I emerged from the theater feeling good and pummeled. Less would have been more.

TMNT, The Prestige

New reviews from Nick at Nite

TMNT

My two and half year old son was such a trooper on Sunday that when he asked to see a movie we relented. He couldn’t sit still or even close to still during Happy Feet and so we were concerned that a movie would be a bad idea, but we didn’t want to disappoint him. So, recognizing that the only thing near family friendly was the animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, we set aside our better parental judgment, loaded the family wagon, and headed to the theater. I thought about giving the movie two reviews, one as if I had gone by myself and one as I went, with my little buddy. I decided that was not fair to the movie or my son. Honestly, if you are over the age of twelve and you go to this movie, by yourself, on a date, or in another group of adults … you need to put away the Dungeon and Dragons set and move out of your mom’s basement. My son loved this movie. When he was not staring at the screen munching away at popcorn, he was asking us to look at the movie, clapping, and cheering on the Ninja Turtles. He stood for a good portion of the movie, leaning over the seat in front of him, and desperately trying to get close to the action. Watching him enjoy the movie was worth the price of admission. As for the plot, something about a 3000 year old curse and bad guys with Ninja skills fighting against the Ninja Turtles who are trying to remember that they are brothers and really need each other to accomplish their goals. I give it a “B.” My son would give it an “A,” assuming he realized “A” meant really good.

The Prestige

Huh? It is a little hard to follow. Is it a flash forward, a flashback, or something different altogether? Or was it simply hard to follow because Christian Bale’s accent is thicker than anything dealt with in My Fair Lady? All in all not a bad movie. It is not as good as the other illusionist inspired flick, The Illusionist, but it is worth a view. The movie stars Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale who as magicians and illusionists become rivals following a terrible accident that kills Hugh Jackman’s wife. There are many twists and turns as these rivals try and out do each other and sabotage one another’s magic tricks. I had no idea where the movie was headed until the very end. So, I give it an “A” for originality, but a “C” for not being as good as The Illusionist, which gives the movie a “B” average.