The weekend film reviews

The weekend film reviews

Frozen

‘Frozen’ is a terrific fairytale adventure that melds old-fashioned values with state-of-the-art visuals and a rousing musical score.

Loosely based on ‘The Snow Queen’ by Hans Christian Andersen, ‘Frozen’ proves that Disney’s animated heroines have unquestionably come of age.

Long gone are the rose-tinted days when princesses waited patiently for Prince Charming to sweep them off their feet.

Now, the spunky, independent and self-assured heroines are just as smart and resourceful as their male contemporaries, and they don’t need the love of a man to affirm their self-worth.

Every beautifully coloured and crafted frame is crammed with wit and joy, drawing in audiences of all ages to the story of two sisters battling against both the elements and their fears to claim their rightful place on the throne.

‘Frozen’ is one of the best animated features to canter out of the Disney stable in years.

Warm-hearted, uplifting and constantly surprising, it’s a timeless fable that will appeal to both boys and girls thanks to uproarious comic relief from Olaf (who is too cute for words).

Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel add vim to their plucky heroines, the latter singing the film’s stand-out song Let It Go.

As an added treat, Frozen is preceded by a black and white Mickey Mouse short, ‘Get A Horse’, that seems to hark from a bygone era but has a wicked sting in the tail.

Star Rating: 4/5

RottenTomatoes.com Rating: 86%


Nebraska

The weekend film reviews

You could win seven-figure lottery jackpots, priceless trinkets and more money than you know what to do with – that’s if you believe the deluge of spam emails that bombard our inboxes or the junk mail that clutters our doormats.

‘Nebraska’ is a bittersweet road movie about a curmudgeon, Woody Grant (Bruce Dern), who takes one of those bogus prize notifications to heart and embarks on a cross-country odyssey to collect the million dollars he believes is waiting for him in the titular state.

Shot in crisp black and white, ‘Nebraska’ is another delightful character study from director Alexander Payne (‘Sideways’, ‘The Descendants’).

Bob Nelson’s script deftly sketches the sinewy bonds between the dysfunctional members of the Grant clan and the minutiae of unremarkable lives is a rich source of humour.

Dern delivers one of the finest performances of his illustrious career and is a frontrunner for next years Oscars, tugging heartstrings as his forgetful family man clings onto the dream of collecting his winnings.

June Squibb is hysterical in support and Forte is a loveable straight man caught in the middle of madness that movingly brings the generations closer together.

Star Rating: 4/5

RottenTomatoes.com Rating: 91%


Homefront

The weekend film reviews

Sylvester Stallone remains firmly behind the camera as screenwriter of this serpentine thriller based on the novel of the same name by Chuck Logan.

He hands over leading man duties to his ‘Expendables’ co-star Jason Statham and the younger action man reciprocates with a typically muscular, brooding performance that requires him to single-handedly take down an army of gun-toting adversaries while protecting a little girl from harm.

Director Gary Fleder elevates the pulpy source material with assured action sequences and populates smaller roles with talented supporting cast, capable of bringing characters to life in a single scene.

He is also blessed with an impressive child actor, Izabela Vidovic, whose emotionally wrought performance even manages to wring a few tears out of Statham.

Wonders will never cease.

‘Homefront’ is a capable, if unremarkable, yarn that plays to Statham’s strengths as a man of few monotone words and bone-crunching actions.

He somersaults, punches and sprints through the set-pieces with aplomb, and growls dialogue to move the plot along from one well sign-posted twist to the next.

Franco and Ryder are poorly served by their flimsy roles but Bosworth certainly makes an impact as a trailer trash mom, who believes that family honour should be upheld by taking down your opponents.

Much of Fleder’s film feels old-fashioned and slightly out-dated, like a project that has been sitting on a shelf for 20 years and only now, someone has decided to blow off the cobwebs and dust.

Star Rating: 2/5

RottenTomatoes.com Rating: 35%


Oldboy

The weekend film reviews

Loosely based on a Japanese manga, Park Chan-wook’s 2003 South Korean thriller Oldboy was one of the finest, and indeed bloodiest, films of a year dominated by the concluding chapter of Peter Jackson’s ‘Lord Of The Rings’ trilogy.

Fast-forward a decade and Jackson has returned to Middle Earth for ‘The Hobbit’, while director Spike Lee oversees this English language remake of Chan-wook’s journey into the heart of darkness.

Alas, Lee’s version leaves an exceedingly nasty taste in the mouth.

This ‘Oldboy’ is even more giddily violent than its predecessor, cranking up the gore with sadistic glee.

Think twice about ordering that hot dog.

‘Oldboy’ has numerous stylistic flourishes, including a woozy sequence of Joe stumbling drunkenly around city streets, but absolutely no soul.

Characters all look dead behind the eyes and it’s hard to tether sympathy as they wade through the mire of brutality, torture and attempted rape.

The original film’s infamous fight sequence, shot in a single take, is now a protracted skirmish on four storeys of a warehouse.

Brolin and Olsen embolden thinly sketched protagonists as best they can while the tricksy plot uncoils around them.

When one of the characters warns Joe not to hurt Marie because “she’s been through a lot and if there’s one thing she doesn’t need more of is pain”, we echo that sentiment.

Star Rating: 2/5

RottenTomatoes.com Rating: 42%


In selected cinemas…


Black Nativity

Kasi Lemmons directs this festive musical centred on teenager Langston (Jacob Latimore), who leaves Baltimore for New York City to spend Christmas with his estranged grandparents, Reverend Cornell Cobbs (Forest Whitaker) and his wife Aretha (Angela Basset).

He rebels against the reverend’s strict rules and yearns to return to his mother, Naima (Jennifer Hudson), but just when it seems like the Cobbs family is coming apart at the seams, Langston discovers the true meaning of family.

Mary J Blige, Tyrese Gibson and Nasir ’Nas’ Jones co-star.

RottenTomatoes.com Rating: 54%


Getaway

Ethan Hawke puts the pedal to the metal in this high-speed thriller directed by Courtney Solomon.

Former race car driver Brent Magna (Hawke) is washed up but still has his wife Leanne (Rebecca Budig).

He returns home to find she has been kidnapped.

A telephone call from The Voice (Jon Voight) propels Brent on a race against time to save Leanne.

Brent leaps into a custom Ford Shelby GT500 Super Snake driven by The Kid (Selena Gomez) and screeches through the city streets ensure that Leanne emerges from her ordeal.

RottenTomatoes.com Rating: 3%


Kill Your Darlings

Set in the 1940s during the dawn of the literary revolution, John Krokidas’s true crime thriller relives a dramatic page in history which brought together Beat poets Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe), Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan), Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston) and William S Burroughs (Ben Foster).

These brilliant young men meet at Columbia University in 1944 and intellectually spar with each other.

There are also sparks of sexual tension and attraction between some of the intellectuals but burgeoning friendships are tested to the limit by the brutal murder of David Kammerer (Michael C Hall).

RottenTomatoes.com Rating: 75%


Marius

The opening instalment of Daniel Auteuil’s re-workings of Marcel Pagnol’s celebrated Marseilles Trilogy comprising Marius, Fanny and Cesar is an emotionally wrought 1920s-set romantic drama.

Marius (Raphael Personnaz) works in the cafe owned by his no-nonsense father, Cesar (Auteuil), in Marseilles’s thriving Old Port but secretly longs to sail away on a merchant ship.

He hankers for 18-year-old Fanny (Victoire Belezy), who sells shellfish, but is unable to express his emotions.

Unlike Marius, Panisse has considerable wealth and says what he feels, and he secures the young woman’s affections.

Thus with his heart broken and nothing to lose, Marius signs up for the next ship out of Marseilles and recklessly declares his love for Fanny.


Fanny

In the middle chapter of Daniel Auteuil’s re-working of Marcel Pagnol’s celebrated Marseilles Trilogy, which began with Marius, young lovers struggle to nurture their long-distance 1920s romance.

With her beau Marius at sea on a merchant ship for the next five years, shellfish seller Fanny is left to her own devices.

She discovers she is pregnant with Marius’s baby but the shame of raising a fatherless child is almost too much to bear.

Seeking advice from her mother Honorine and Marius’s no-nonsense father, Cesar, Fanny agrees to secure her son’s future by marrying widowed factory owner Panisse.

The older man is happy to exploit Fanny’s emotional turmoil in order to gain a young, beautiful wife but her heart still belongs to Marius.

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