Given this week’s scarcity of new releases, as few films have the guts to go up against a certain caped crusader, I’m going to open this week’s Cinemascape with a withering peek at a fresh little something for the family market, then continue with an appreciative nod to my two favourite recent releases. Both of which you should consider seeing before…
A diminutive orange blob with a bushy yellow ‘tache, matching eyebrows and the voice of Danny DeVito steps out onto a stage. “I am the Lorax,” he declares. “I speak for the trees.” My heart sinks.
“We open in Thneedville,” he continues as the movie opens to reveal a typically Seussian landscape. “A city they say, was plastic and fake, and they liked in that way.” My head pounds.
The tale of a lad motivated by love to explore beyond the limits of his artificial town, to seek knowledge of trees, of their terrible fate and of how to restore his world to its former, leafy splendour, The Lorax labours to teach our children many important lessons.
Like, don’t be a litterbug, or feed goldfish marshmallows. Never hit bears with hammers or chop down trees. Above all else, under no circumstances should you expand your business at Mother Nature’s expense. Though I suppose these are all sound lessons, I feel the filmmakers could use some advice themselves.
Try to make your animated movie stand out by including funny jokes, clever dialogue, novel characters, interesting situations and striking visuals. When writing a musical number, feel free to take more than two minutes. Above all else, try not to be described by critics as ‘insufferably preachy’.
A tale not only of the Bat (Christian Bale), but also the many splendid folk inhabiting Gotham, The Dark Knight Rises (12A) is the first superhero film that I am convinced will win a Best Picture Academy Award. The drop-dead stunning culmination of many well-spent years of planning and making, it’s a film fuelled by the passion of everyone involved.
Elegantly photographed with sets worthy of vintage Bond, costumes to die for and gadgets that never cease to amaze, The Dark Knight Rises has surface gloss to spare. The secret to its success though, lies with what’s underneath the hood. Beautifully written with as much heart as intelligence, the dialogue has a poetry to it that’s a pleasure to listen to. The performances too, are uniformly strong, as intimate as the movie itself is epic. I loved it.
A lightly re-invented origin tale detailing a mutated teen’s (Andrew Garfield) efforts to thwart a monstrous lizard-man (Rhys Ifans) and date a perky peer (Emma Stone), The Amazing Spider-Man (12A) heralds an exciting new era of web-swinging wonder. From whizzy point-of-view shots that take us swinging through the city to stunning slo-mo moments that perfectly capture our hero, mid-swing, it’s a comicbook come to life. Delivering varied and imaginative action highlights, the movie as a whole is played with humour and drama and never fails to grip.
Something I particularly liked in this incarnation was Spidey’s creative use of webbing, not just to swing on but also for defence and attack, to pull himself out of tight spots and to hurl himself skywards with an elastic twang. It’s stuff that comicbook fans have long been familiar with, but that somehow on the big screen never came across so successfully. At least, not until now. The depth of thought and attention to detail that the filmmakers so obviously devoted to every aspect of this movie is impressive indeed. It’s a great, fun film and a classic Spider-Man adventure.