Posted by: David Stewart | December 29, 2010

Movie Madness – quick takes (Narnia, Tangled, Tron, True Grit & a King’s Speech)

Movie Madness – our one-day blitz of the Christmas movies extended over a couple of days, thanks to a hectic social schedule. Though I expect I am but one shy of seeing the most significant Oscar contenders of the year.

The King’s Speech – can a headstrong Australian speech therapist break through the class barriers of British royalty to save a nation? What, this doesn’t sound like a compelling story premise? But somehow this UK picture succeeds through a terrific performance by leads Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter and Geoffrey Rush. Annoying that they tried to get by with but a single actress for Princess Elizabeth (now the current Queen) through too long a time of her growing up. Go see it or hear about it on Oscar night.

Tron: Legacy – The Dude abides in cyberspace. The craggy Jeff Bridges, he of the resurrected career battles himself in a dual role, becoming the only actor of merit in the entire enterprise. A better soundtrack and pacing than the original.  But the story loses credibility when shortcuts are taken to get to the end with the audience awake. Bruce Boxleitner is unrecognizable in his reprise as the title program. Skip it unless you are a fan of the genre.

Tangled – ranking just below the Little Mermaid in the constellation of Disney teen girl rebellion stories, its story of mother-daugher relationships rings true.  Rapunzel could become the Ariel of the 21st century. Go see it.

True Grit – It is said that the language of the old West is America’s Shakespeare. Such mythic tales of open space, lawlessness and heroism are part of our shared psyche. I’m not much for westerns though.  Fortunately, this yarn of a 14-year-old girl who wishes to avenge her father’s murder is blessed with a strong but believable female lead and that language, oh what language! It’s a violent and grim by nature, and the end seems like something of an afterthought. I felt it was a better movie in the middle than by the time I reached the end, but it stands to be nominated for best picture.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader – it’s usually a bad sign when a movie’s title runs to ten words. While this installment of the Narnia series is in a new studio (Fox versus Disney) and is competing in blockbuster season, it is a good telling of the tale. The younger two Pevensie children return to Narnia along with a dyspeptic younger cousin, Eustace Scrubb, who is as unpleasant as his name. There is a good balance of elements from the original C.S. Lewis story while keeping the pace fast for the kids. There is a hook at the end for the next movie, which I dearly hope they decide to do. See it if you saw and liked the others in the series.

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