This Week In Cinema: January 15-21, 2012

I’d like to think my dog is extremely loyal, but truth be told she’d stop coming by to wait for my return as soon as she realized food was not a part of the waiting process!

A decent number of movies this week just means more of my drivel for everyone to read,

Tangled Ever After (3D, 2012, Nathan Greno & Byron Howard, United States Of America) ***1/2

I greatly enjoyed Tangled, but at the same time Disney has never shown great acuity when it comes to going back to characters from its feature films. For that reason my hopes for Tangled Ever After were measured, but I need not have measured them at all. Tangled Ever After picks up right where Tangled left off, delivering tremendous screwball comedy that is reminiscent of the great screwball comedies of the 30s and 40s. Watching Pascal and Maximus in their zany adventure was a lot of fun. When the tremendous animation is taken into account Tangled Ever After becomes a great short film that was a heck of an experience.

Beauty And The Beast (3D, 1991, Gary Trousdale & Kirk Wise, United States Of America) ***

The story remains the same and it is executed in the same fine fashion as in the films original release. With that being the case this version of Beauty And The Beast is all about how it handles the inclusion of 3D. I’m not a 3D hater, I firmly believe it does have its place in cinema as a tool in the bag of a filmmaker. That being said I don’t see the need for the retrofitting of 3D and this film was no exception. I still enjoyed myself because of the story and the animation, but the 3D, while well done, added nothing to the experience of watching the film and actually took away from said experience in a few spots.

Kindergarten Cop (1990, Ivan Reitman, United States Of America) ***

I’ve always wondered why some people chose to view Arnold Schwarzenegger as a stupid action star. He was in every way the predecessor to someone like Dwayne Johnson. Mr. Schwarzenegger is full of charisma and he has great comedic timing. He’s not afraid to be made the fool and in a movie like Kindergarten Cop it really shows. Kindergarten Cop is cheesy, it’s obvious, and it’s bad in spots. But, it’s also pretty funny and has Arnold Schwarzenegger giving a none too shabby comedic performance.

Dracula (1931, Tod Browning & Karl Freund, United States Of America) **

Dracula, as directed by Tod Browning and Karl Freund, has to be a case of misguided nostalgia. At least that’s what I told myself while watching Dracula and struggling mightily to find positives in the film. I’ve seen a few other Tod Browning films, and none of them were as stagnant and lifeless (I know, I know that’s some bad writing) as Dracula. Bela Lugosi is the focal point of the film, but he’s really not. It’s an odd mixture, this Dracula, with a story so slight that it’s near impossible to become invested. Characters so thin thin that they might as well be pieces of paper. And a total lack of atmosphere that was inexplicable, I couldn’t think of a reason for the lack of atmosphere at least. People will continue to laud the performance from Mr. Lugosi, but to be honest he isn’t doing much in a film that isn’t interested in being anything but stagnant.

Hachi: A Dog’s Tale (2009, Lasse Hallström, United Kingdom/United States Of America) ***1/2

A movie like Hachi: A Dog’s Tale sneaks up on the viewer. I wasn’t expecting much from this movie other than a cute dog and a sappy ending. The cute dog was in the movie but instead of a sappy ending I got an ending full of earned sentimentality. The obvious comparison is a movie like Marley & Me. Sure, I was affected by the ending of Marley & Me, but I was still able to recognize the manufactured nature of the ending. From its first moments Hachi: A Dog’s Tale presents a story that is natural and earnest. I didn’t feel like I was watching a manufactured piece intended to draw tears, but rather a heartfelt tale that elicited tears because of the natural pull of its many parts and players. I may not have expected much, but there’s no denying I was given a great movie in Hachi: A Dog’s Tale.

Wrap-Up:

All in all a pretty good week for movies. Other than the disappointment that Dracula brought about I, for one reason or another, enjoyed all the movies I watched this week. Tangled Ever After had movie of the week honors in the bag, but then Richard Gere and a cute dog entered the fray. It was a simple tale and a simple film, but it was an effective tale and a effective film. That is why Hachi: A Dog’s Tale is taking home movie of the week honors. Until next week, watch more movies!

Cheers,
Bill

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