What to See November 29, 2013

What to See November 29, 2013

So you’re lounging around after Thanksgiving, wondering how on earth you could have eaten so much, and you want to do something that does not require a lot of energy. Well thankfully, that’s what movie theaters are for! So let’s see what you might want to see this weekend!

New This Weekend

Frozen — PG

This doesn’t look like something I’m personally all that interested in — but then, I’m known to be a little bit cranky about goofy looking films every now and then. I try not to be but I can’t help it. I mean, honestly this thing just looks too stupid. But you and/or your kids might enjoy it so to each their own. I’m not going to judge (well, maybe a little…).

In “Frozen,” fearless optimist Anna (voice of ‘Kristen Bell’ ) teams up with rugged mountain man Kristoff (voice of ‘Jonathan Groff’ ) and his loyal reindeer Sven in an epic journey, encountering Everest-like conditions, mystical trolls and a hilarious snowman named Olaf in a race to find Anna’s sister Elsa (voice of Idina Menzel), whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom of Arendelle in eternal winter. Encountering Everest-like conditions, mystical trolls and a hilarious snowman named Olaf, Anna and Kristoff battle the elements in a race to save the kingdom.

1 hr 8 min
Cast: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, Santino Fontana
Director: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
Genres: Action/Adventure, Animated

See or not: Meh

Homefront — R

Again, this doesn’t look all that compelling. It looks sort of like some version of Taken with Jason Statham, and I’m not sure why I would want to see that. Still, from the trailer, it likes like it could be mildly compelling, but ultimately I’m guessing it will be sort of forgettable. If I run out of other things to see I might go see it (so probably not).

Hoping to escape from his troubled past, former DEA agent Phil Broker (Jason Statham) moves to a seemingly quiet backwater town in the bayou with his daughter. However, he finds anything but quiet there, for the town is riddled with drugs and violence. When Gator Bodine (James Franco), a sociopathic druglord, puts the newcomer and his young daughter in harm’s way, Broker is forced back into action to save her and their home. Based on a novel by Chuck Logan.

1 hr 40 min
R | for strong violence, pervasive language, drug content and brief sexuality Cast: Jason Statham, James Franco, Kate Bosworth, Frank Grillo, Izabela Vidovic, Clancy Brown, Omar Miller, Winona Ryder, Rachelle Lefevre
Director: Gary Fleder
Genres: Action/Adventure, Suspense/Thriller

See or not: Meh

Limited Releases

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom — PG-13

This one looks good! Unfortunately, it’s not playing in the Nashville area yet. The film stars Idris Elba of Pacific Rim fame, and Naomie Harris of Pirates of the Caribbean and Skyfall fame.

It has been a fact of history that white men have oppressed the black people. It is a sad fact, but it is a fact none-the-less and is therefore worth talking about, worth making films about, worth bringing attention to. That doesn’t mean a bad film on the subject will get a pass from me, but this one looks like one of the good ones from what I can tell. Particularly good I think will be Idris Elba. If it’s playing near you I think this one is a no-brainer.

Nelson Mandela (Idris Elba) serves 27 years in prison, is instrumental in the abolishment of apartheid and eventually becomes South Africa’s president.

2 hr 19 min
PG-13 | Intense Sequences of Violence, Disturbing Images, Brief Strong Language and Sexual Content
Cast: Idris Elba, Naomie Harris, Tony Kgoroge, Riaad Moosa, Zolani Mkiva
Director: Justin Chadwick
Genres: Drama

See or not: See

The Book Thief - PG-13

This looks extremely good. There’s no doubt that the filmmakers certainly had their eyes on an Oscar in this film, and if the trailers are any indication I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t get very close. While this film can certainly be classified as a WWII film given the subject matter, this does not look like your ordinary fare. The basic premise: during WWII, a young girl is living with her foster parents outside Munich, and they must hide a Jewish refugee in their home. And another goody, it’s scored by none other than John Williams.

If it’s in your area this weekend I think this one is a no-brainer. It is finally in the Nashville area and this is the one I’ll be seeing this weekend!

In 1938, young orphan Liesel (Sophie Nélisse) arrives at the home of her new foster parents, Hans (Geoffrey Rush) and Rosa (Emily Watson). When Hans, a kindly housepainter, learns that Liesel cannot read, he teaches the child the wonders of the written language. Liesel grows to love books, even rescuing one from a Nazi bonfire. Though Liesel’s new family barely scrape by, their situation becomes even more precarious when they secretly shelter a Jewish boy whose father once saved Hans’ life.

2 hr 7 min
PG-13 | Some Violence and Intense Thematic Material
Cast: Sophie Nelisse, Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Ben Schnetzer, Nico Liersch
Director: Brian Percival
Genres: Drama

See or not: See!

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire — PG-13

Wow! This film is SO good! The books, while having a good story behind them, are very poorly written. The first film by directory Gary Ross was decent, but also had it’s flaws which I attribute to some unfortunate decisions by Ross. This film does away with almost every complaint I might have made against the first film. It is extrememly well done. The character development is paramount, the story is sound, the cinematography is great. In short, this film improves upon the first in every conceivable way and then some.

Chad, Fizz, and I talked about this film on The MovieByte Podcast Episode 70, and I released a video review about the film earlier today. Be sure to check those out!

THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE begins as Katniss Everdeen has returned home safe after winning the 74th Annual Hunger Games along with fellow tribute Peeta Mellark. Winning means that they must turn around and leave their family and close friends, embarking on a “Victor’s Tour” of the districts. Along the way Katniss senses that a rebellion is simmering, but the Capitol is still very much in control as President Snow prepares the 75th Annual Hunger Games (The Quarter Quell) - a competition that could change Panem forever.

2 hr 26 min
PG-13 | For intense sequences of violence and action, some frightening images, thematic elements, a suggestive situation and language.
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Woody Harrelson, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks
Director: Francis Lawrence
Genres: Action/Adventure

See or not: SEE!!!!!!!!!

Thor: The Dark World — PG-13

This was a pretty great film in my opinion. It was at least way better than the first Thor film which, frankly, wasn’t great. I thought this film corrected many of the failings of the first and had some great character development. I did have some minor issues with the film, but you can read all about those in my written review, or watch me talk about it on my new show ByteSized, or listen to over 1.5 hours of Me, Joe, Chad, and Mike Fissel yammering on about it (it was a lot of fun).

Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World” continues the big-screen adventures of Thor, the Mighty Avenger, as he battles to save Earth and all the Nine Realms from a shadowy enemy that predates the universe itself. In the aftermath of Marvel’s “Thor” and “Marvel’s The Avengers,” Thor fights to restore order across the cosmos…but an ancient race led by the vengeful Malekith returns to plunge the universe back into darkness. Faced with an enemy that even Odin and Asgard cannot withstand, Thor must embark on his most perilous and personal journey yet, one that will reunite him with Jane Foster and force him to sacrifice everything to save us all.

1 hr 51 min
PG-13 | some suggestive content and intense sci-fi action/violence
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård, Idris Elba
Director: Alan Taylor
Genres: Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi/Fantasy

See or not: SEE!

Ender’s Game — PG-13

While this film has some pacing problems, I did enjoy it quite a lot. I guess I made the “mistake” of reading the book first and that sort of ruins any film adaption thereafter I suppose. But the essentials of the plot from the book are in place here in the film, and seeing the elements of the book either as I had imagined them, or sometimes even better is always awesome. And Asa Butterfield knocks this one out of the park, as do Harrison Ford and Hailee Steinfeld.

wrote a review which you might want to check out. We also talked about it on The MovieByte Podcast and you might want to check that out. I also did the inaugural episode of ByteSized on Ender’s Game. It’s short and sweet so definitely check that out.

In the near future, a hostile alien race has attacked Earth. If not for the legendary heroics of International Fleet Commander Mazer Rackham, all would have been lost. In preparation for the next attack, the highly esteemed Colonel Hyrum Graff and the International Military are training only the best young minds to find the future Mazer. Ender Wiggin, a shy but strategically brilliant young leader, is recruited to join the elite. Arriving at Battle School, Ender quickly and easily masters increasingly difficult challenges and simulations, distinguishing himself and winning respect amongst his peers. Ender is soon ordained by Graff as the military’s next great hope, resulting in his promotion to Command School. Once there, he’s trained by Mazer Rackham himself to lead his fellow soldiers into an epic battle that will determine the future of Earth and save the human race.

1 hr 54 min
PG-13 | thematic material, some violence and sci-fi action
Cast: Harrison Ford, Asa Butterfield, Ben Kingsley
Director: Gavin Hood
Genres: Action/Adventure

 See or not: See!

Gravity — PG-13

Wow, what an amazing film. There is barely any way I can do it justice here in just a couple short paragraphs. It was majestic, frightening, and intense, with great visual story telling, and a refreshingly short runtime — it was as long as it needed to be and no longer. Sandra Bullock pulled off the performance of a career here as well. She was nothing short of amazing.

In short this film is fantastic and you must see it! Be sure to check out my review of the film, and listen to Episode 64 of The MovieByte Podcast where Chad and I discuss the film. I also recently released a short video review of the film on ByteSized Video Reviews. Check it out!

Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is a medical engineer on her first shuttle mission. Her commander is veteran astronaut Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney), helming his last flight before retirement. Then, on a routine space walk, disaster strikes – the shuttle is destroyed, leaving Ryan and Matt stranded in deep space with no link to Earth and no hope of rescue. As their fear turns to panic, they realize that the only way home may be to venture further into space.

1 hr 31 min
PG-13 | Intense perilous sequences, some disturbing images and brief strong language
Cast: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Ed Harris, Orto Ignatiussen
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Genres: Drama, Sci-Fi/Fantasy

See or not: SEE!


12 Years a Slave — R

Finally! While the film is technically still in limited release it is finally showing in the Nashville area and I’m going to go ahead and mention it because it looks like a good one to see! The films about America’s dark period of slavery seem to be making the rounds these days, but this one does look like it has the potential to be good. There’s no denying that slavery happened and it was evil. And many of these stories can be compelling.

In the years before the Civil War, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man from upstate New York, is kidnapped and sold into slavery in the South. Subjected to the cruelty of one malevolent owner (Michael Fassbender), he also found unexpected kindness from another, as he struggled continually to survive and maintain some of his dignity. Then in the 12th year of the disheartening ordeal, a chance meeting with an abolitionist from Canada changed Solomon’s life forever.

2 hr 14 min
R | violence/cruelty, some nudity and brief sexuality
Cast: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Giamatti, Sarah Paulson, Paul Dano
Director: Steve McQueen
Genres: Drama

See or not: See

 Captain Phillips — PG-13

Another great film to choose from. It’s nice to finally be getting out of that horrible slump the box office was in for a while. It’s really too bad that it had to go up against Gravity because it is a good film, but Gravity is indeed a little better, and seeming has more hype and staying power.

Chad and I talked about this on The MovieByte Podcast episode 65 so you’ll want to check that out.

Captain Phillips is a multi-layered examination of the 2009 hijacking of the U.S. container ship Maersk Alabama by a crew of Somali pirates. It is — through director Paul Greengrass’s distinctive lens — simultaneously a pulse-pounding thriller, and a complex portrait of the myriad effects of globalization. The film focuses on the relationship between the Alabama’s commanding officer, Captain Richard Phillips (two time Academy Award®-winner Tom Hanks), and the Somali pirate captain, Muse (Barkhad Abdi), who takes him hostage. Phillips and Muse are set on an unstoppable collision course when Muse and his crew target Phillips’ unarmed ship; in the ensuing standoff, 145 miles off the Somali coast, both men will find themselves at the mercy of forces beyond their control.

2 hr 13 min
PG-13 | sustained intense sequences of menace, some violence with bloody images, and for substance use
Cast: Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi, Catherine Keener, Michael Chernus, Corey Johnson
Director: Paul Greengrass
Genres: Action/Adventure, Suspense/Thriller

See or not: See

About Time — R

So this looks like an extremely cheesy, and yet fun and somewhat lovable film. Ultimately I think it will be too cheesy for me. And it’s a RomCom, which is always a mixed bag and RomComs are usually either pretty good, or really bad. I don’t plan to watch it, but if any of y’all see and and like it, do let me know.

When Tim Lake (Domhnall Gleeson) is 21, his father (Bill Nighy) tells him a secret: The men in their family can travel through time. Although he can’t change history, Tim resolves to improve his life by getting a girlfriend. He meets Mary (Rachel McAdams), falls in love and finally wins her heart via time-travel and a little cunning. However, as his unusual life progresses, Tim finds that his special ability can’t shield him and those he loves from the problems of ordinary life.

2 hr 4 min
R | Language and some sexual content
Cast: Tom Hughes, Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams, Bill Nighy, Tom Hollander, Lindsay Duncan, Margot Robbie, Lydia Wilson, Vanessa Kirby, Joshua McGuire, Richard Cordery, Will Merrick, Clemmie Dugdale
Director: Richard Curtis
Genres: Romantic Comedy, Sci-Fi Comedy, Comedy

See or not: Probably Not.