Stop-motion animation is refreshing change of pace
Queen Victoria and Pirate Captain in “The Pirates! Band of Misfits.”
- “The Pirates! Band of Misfits”
★★★ (out of four)
2012, Dirs. Peter Lord and Jeff Newitt, U.S., PG
“The Pirates! Band of Misfits” is rated PG for slapstick violence.
- New films
Director: Tim Burton.
Starring: Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer.
The plot: An imprisoned vampire, Barnabas Collins, is set free and returns to his ancestral home, where his dysfunctional descendants are in need of his protection.
Genre: Comedy, fantasy.
‘Where Do We Go Now?’
Director: Nadine Labaki.
Starring: Claude Baz Moussawbaa, Leyla Hakim.
The plot: A group of Lebanese women try to ease religious tensions between Christians and Muslims in their village.
Genre: Comedy, drama.
- Film roundup
“THE CABIN IN THE WOODS”
★★★★ (out of four)
“The Cabin in the Woods” practices what it preaches, effectively turning the entire genre inside-out by providing not only a point of reference for literally every supernaturally based horror film ever made, but also a complete deconstruction — and, in the end, destruction — of that same filmic universe. (Ultimately, the audience itself is cast in the role of an angry evil god who destroys that which does not adhere to its rigid standards of quality entertainment.
Expectations were surpassed when it became clear that the film wasn’t merely a vehicle for raunchy humor (though it certainly was that as well), but also a surprisingly touching and emotionally mature teen love story that wore its heart on its sleeve. The movie was a tremendous success, launching a franchise that thus far has produced three sequels and four direct-to-DVD spin-offs. More importantly, it was instrumental in setting the standard for character-driven gross-out comedies in the decade that followed, and it is almost inconceivable that filmmakers like Judd Apatow and Todd Phillips would be successful today without the template provided by “American Pie.”
“THE HUNGER GAMES”
I enjoy exploitation as much as the next red-blooded American, but if I’m gonna wallow, I gotta wallow in style. Unfortunately, “The Hunger Games” is devoid of such style, with Ross preferring constant and inexplicable close-up shots, even in the most inappropriate moments. The action scenes (which come at a brisk clip once the maddeningly detailed expository scenes are through) are incoherent blurs of motion — somewhat understandable, given the difficulty inherent to depicting 12-year-olds being wantonly butchered, but still presumably avoidable with a competent artist in the director’s chair.
“21 JUMP STREET”
It is not a work of art. Clearly, it will not be winning any awards. But I will say this for it: When I walked into the theater, I had endured a particularly rough day full of sorrow and pity and pretty much every other bad emotion you can imagine, and the absolute last thing I wanted to do was watch yet another awful adaptation of an equally awful ’80s television show. Two hours later, I walked out of the theater smiling, lightly chuckling to myself in remembrance of some of the movie’s funnier gags, and generally just feeling a lot better about life and my place in the universe. The experience bordered on the spiritual.
Posted: Friday, May 4, 2012 7:32 am
This week, we venture even further into “The Cabin in the Woods” with an in-depth examination of the film’s deft deconstruction of gender-based archetypes. I kid, I kid ... as much as it would please me to spend the next many weeks harping on (thus far) the year’s best film, surely it is time to move on.
We shall do so this week with a (very) brief look at the surprisingly engaging kiddie flick “The Pirates! Band of Misfits,” as well as a quick rundown of the summer titles slated for review over the course of the next couple months. (My madness-inducing work schedule and generally complicated personal life will probably prevent me from reviewing more than one movie per week, as I sometimes like to do during the summer and awards season crunch times, but I will try to shoe-horn in an extra review or two whenever possible.)
Friday, May 4, 2012 7:32 am.