Sunday, January 12 2014, 03:31 PM MST
Box Office: Recommended Films For The Week Of December 27, 2013 - January 3, 2014
Recommended films showing in Salt Lake City for the week of December 27, 2013 January 3, 2014
1. The Wolf of Wall Street (R)
2. American Hustle (R)
3. Frozen (PG)
4. The Huger Games: Catching Fire (PG-13)
5. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (PG-13)
1. Frozen (PG)
2. The Book Thief (PG-13)
3. Saving Mr. Banks (PG-13)
4. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (PG)
5. Enders Game (PG-13)
1. Inside Llewyn Davis (R)
2. 12 Years a Slave (R)
3. Dallas Buyers Club (R)
4. Nebraska (R)
5. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (PG-13)
2 out of 5 Stars
Director: Peter Segal
Starring: Robert De Niro, Sylvester Stallone and Kim Basinger
Genre: Comedy, Sport
Recommended To: Those that feel obligated to support Stallone or De Niro, even when the film doesnt deserve the attention.
Synopsis: A pair of long-retired boxers agree to a decisive match thirty years after their last fight.
Review: There's nothing outstanding about Grudge Match and what is good isn't particularly engrossing. Stallone is wooden, but likable, Alan Arkin has some nice jokes and Jon Bernthal (The Walking Dead) offers a solid dramatic performance that cant overcome a predictable and poorly planned screenplay from television veterans Tim Helleher and Rodney Rothman. The scripts biggest sin is that De Niro's character is so unlikable and any attempts to redeem him feel cheap and ineffective. It makes the story impossible to enjoy because Helleher and Rothman clearly want the audience to be split over who they want to win the fight, but only the most diehard De Niro fan will find any reason to cheer him on. There are plenty of Rocky references, some of which provide the films few laughs, but strangely there doesn't seem to be much Raging Bull, not even in Di Nero.
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
3.5 out of 5 Stars
Director: Justin Chadwick
Starring: Idris Elba, Naomie Harris and Terry Pheto
Genre: Biography, Drama, History
Recommended To: Those looking for an all-too-brief look at Nelson Mandela's life.
Synopsis: Born in a rural village Nelson Mandela rose to become the first democratically elected president of South Africa.
Review: The biggest problem facing Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is that the film looks to condense a lifetime of events into 139 minutes. William Nicholson's (Gladiator, Shadowlands) script highlights all the major events, but fails to give them a real sense of depth or even a proper sense of context regarding the evolution of the South African political environment. Not that he didn't try and truthfully it might be impossible to paint the whole picture in such a small frame. Idris Elba, Naomie Harris and the supporting cast are all quite strong, but it just doesn't add up to the stirring experience that I was expecting. Still, there is enough here to recommend seeing the film, even if its just a brief glimpse into the life of a remarkable man.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
3.5 out of 5 Stars
Director: Ben Stiller
Starring: Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig and Jon Daly
Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Drama
Recommended To: Those looking for a pleasant excursion into day dreams are real adventure.
Synopsis: Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller) is in charge of the photonegatives for Life magazine. His job has slowly become obsolete as many photographers have converted to the digital medium and now the magazine itself is transitioning into a digital-only format. For its last print edition Mitty and his wild imagination must race around the world to track down a missing photonegative from famed photographer Sean O'Connell (Sean Penn).
Review: Loosely based on James Thurber's 1939 short story of the same name The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a strange, but often wonderful voyage that weaves in and out of Walter Mitty's imagination. This journey is a bit jarring at first, but as the film moves along the blurring of reality and fantasy becomes delightfully blurred until Mitty's daydreaming is replaced by actual experience. Of course its all purposefully far fetched, more than a little silly at times and despite an ample amount of cinema magic there's something missing that never quite allows the film to anything more than a pleasant experience. Ben Stiller, who also directs, and Kristen Wiig, who plays Mitty's romantic interest, are quite charming in their roles and the supporting players add a nice amount of color along the way.
The Wolf of Wall Street
4 out of 5 Stars
Director: Martin Scorsese
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill and Margot Robbie
Genre: Biography, Crime, Comedy
Recommended To: Fans of Scorsese and DiCaprio looking for a flawed and often filty film about greed and opulent excess.
Synopsis: The rise and fall of Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio), a wealthy stockbroker who cheated his way to the top.
Review: For better or worse The Wolf of Wall Street is an excessive film about excessive behavior. It is three hours of sex, drugs, and moneymaking at any cost. On the surface it is relentlessly amoral. Beneath the shock and awe is a painful examination of the American Dream gone amuck. You could accuse director Martin Scorsese and screenwriter Terence Winter (Boardwalk Empire) of exaggeration and reveling in the filth and muck of the narrative, but the frightening thing about the film is that it is at least mostly true, at least according to Jordan Belforts memoir (much of which can be confirmed). These things more or less actually happened. The cast, which is led by Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill and supported by big names like Matthew McConaughey, Jon Favreau and Rob Reiner and up and coming talent like Margo Robbie and Jon Bernthal, is spectacular in an over-the-top sort of way. Everyone seems fully committed to pushing their roles to the absolute extreme and because the film is a dark satire the approach works for the most part. What keeps the film from being a masterpiece is a combination of its length and its inability to really give a sense of depth to the world (even if it is a very superficial world to begin with).
-Ryan Michael Painter
(2013 Copyright Sinclair Broadcast Group)