Movie Review: “Beauty and the Beast”
Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Kevin Kline, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellan, Emma Thompson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw
As sweet and lovely as Disney’s 1991 animated film “Beauty and the Beast” is, the story has some, um, inconsistencies. Belle somehow manages to get an injured, beaten Beast up on a horse to bring back to the castle. There is a painting of an adult Prince that could not possibly have been painted. And how is it that the local village has no knowledge of an enchanted castle just a short ride away? All of these issues, thankfully, are addressed in the live-action remake of the film, and the emotional stakes are raised quite a bit in the finale (though not in the manner that you might think). The production design is gorgeous, Belle’s yellow dress is as stunning as Cinderella’s blue dress in the 2015 remake of that film, and Emma Watson is an inspired choice to play Belle, and is quite the singer as well.
The movie takes a while to find its rhythm, though. The three biggest musical numbers in the movie’s first half bite off more than they can chew, as if Disney had told director Bill Condon, “Just ask yourself: what would Baz Luhrmann do? And then ask us if we think Baz would do that, and we’ll tell you whether or not you’re right.” Condon captures the excessiveness of a Luhrmann number but not its energy, and that is a very important distinction. The movie’s second half, though, is much better. The relationship between Belle and the Beast comes into focus, and one small cameo makes a world of difference in the end.
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Movie Review: “Noah”
Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ray Winstone, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Douglas Booth, Anthony Hopkins
Just as the Bible speaks in many ways to many people, so does Darren Aronofsky’s epic “Noah,” a story about a man, his giant ark and the lengths a family will go to when facing the world’s first apocalypse.
Tackling a story of pre-apocalyptic earth in the before and after stages is nothing new, but Aronofsky knew that he had to pull out all the stops in dealing with the planet’s first biblical disaster. Luckily, he had Russell Crowe to work with. After a brief but eye-catching history lesson (via fast motion) from the time of creation through the questionable dietary choices in the Garden of Eden, to the slaying of Abel by Cain, we arrive at the tenth generation of man, where a young Noah (Dakota Goyo) witnesses his father being killed just as he is about to bestow his birthright, a glowing snakeskin sleeve, upon him.
Years later, an adult Noah (Crowe) is living a happy but isolated life with his wife Naameh (Jennifer Connelly) and three sons, Ham (Logan Lerman), Shem (Douglas Booth) and Japheth (Leo Carroll). But if life (and Twitter 3:16) has taught us anything, it’s that you can avoid people, but not their mistakes. Noah receives a vision, one of great death by flooding. The Creator (The “G-word” is never said in the film) has decided that his experiment with mankind has gone completely off the rails, as everyone is a poster child for the worse sins imaginable against the planet and themselves.
Unfortunately, visions aren’t the same as having a phone call, Skype or even text messages, so Noah seeks out clarification from his granddad Methuselah (Anthony Hopkins). Thanks to his guidance, and getting slipped a mickey, Noah gets a clearer vision: the planet is about to be destroyed by a flood. He is to construct a giant ark with a sample of the planet’s animals and witness the first-ever heavenly version of a reboot. Aiding him in his quest is Ila (Emma Watson), an injured orphan girl who becomes his adopted daughter and love interest of Shem. He’s also greatly assisted by fallen angels turned giant stone creatures called the Watchers, who also sinned against the Creator and seek redemption.
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Movie Review: “The Bling Ring”
Katie Chang, Isreal Broussard, Emma Watson, Taissa Farmiga, Claire Julien
Sofia Coppola was once heralded as one of Hollywood’s most promising young directors, but over the years, she’s looked more likely to follow in the footsteps of her famous father’s recent work than his celebrated early films. After duds like “Marie Antoinette” and “Somewhere,” Coppola needed to deliver something great to get her career back on track, but while “The Bling Ring” offers an interesting commentary on America’s fame-obsessed youth culture, it’s an incredibly shallow exposé that barely skims the surface of what could have been a fascinating drama. Based on Nancy Jo Sales’ Vanity Fair article “The Suspect Wore Louboutins,” there’s no real point to the movie, unless it’s to say that stealing from B-list celebrities will make you equally as famous, in which case, isn’t it just contributing to the problem?
Though all of the names have been changed, Coppola doesn’t shy away from the fact that it’s based on a true story. If only the studio was as upfront about Emma Watson’s involvement, because despite being marketed as the star of the film, the actress plays a surprisingly small role. Instead, the story is centered on a gay outcast named Marc (Israel Broussard), who meets type-A bad girl Rebecca (Katie Chang) during his first day at a new school and is promptly taken under her wing. After wetting their feet with some petty thefts, Rebecca convinces Marc to break into Paris Hilton’s house when they read on a gossip website that she’s out of town for the night, leaving the pair free to go on a mini shopping spree of the hotel heiress’ massive wardrobe.
When they boast about how easy their conquest was to friends Nicki (Watson), Sam (Taissa Farmiga) and Chloe (Claire Julien), the group of teenage kleptomaniacs returns to Hilton’s house to indulge in their celebrity fantasies, leading to a series of burglaries in the homes of other Hollywood Hills residents like Lindsay Lohan, Megan Fox, Miranda Kerr and Rachel Bilson. (In every instance, one of the doors was either unlocked, or in the case of Hilton, a key was left under the doormat.) And since Coppola intercuts the main narrative with scenes of the rich kids preparing for their big day in court, it’s not a spoiler to reveal that they were eventually caught.
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