Cinderella is a refreshing callback to the unabashed costume epics of the past, when story and aesthetic held equal sway over ambitious filmmakers. Director Kenneth Branagh and his production team luxuriate in breathtaking sets, opulent costumes, and impeccable special effects while still keeping the old-fashioned story of courage and kindness at center stage. Yes, it would have been nice to see a little more cellulite and gumption from our heroine, but it’s hard to complain about a movie that so thoroughly delivers on spectacle and heart. Lush, extravagant, and painfully earnest, Disney’s Cinderella is a worthy adaptation of its classic predecessor. In fact, it’s quite wonderful.
Fifty Shades of Grey is not horrible. In fact, the first hour isn’t bad at all. A dry, offbeat charm complements a delicate story structure that would be at home in any generic romance film. The second hour, however, is an epic endurance test. This material is woefully thin, and because the filmmakers have scaled back the smut factor, there’s not enough eye candy to keep things interesting, either. By the end, you’ll be fifty shades of bored.
It’s painful to criticize a well-intentioned, socially relevant movie like I Am Michael. Director Justin Kelly’s passion for the project is evident in every frame. Still, there’s no denying this is a deeply flawed and surprisingly sparse film that fails to illuminate its frustrating protagonist. Despite a few moments of emotional clarity and a solid performance from James Franco, I Am Michael leaves you feeling ambivalent and, quite frankly, bored. This is a fascinating story that got lost in translation.
True Story is a slick crime thriller that looks great but feels oddly distant. Much like the cold-blooded killer at its core, Rupert Goold’s film is quite the cold fish. Solid performances and striking visuals help to hide a clunky script that delivers its message with the subtlety of a sledgehammer. It doesn’t amount to much, but True Story is a creepy diversion that will keep you entertained.
A Walk in the Woods is like a nice, warm blanket. One with a plaid pattern that’s been sitting in your granny’s attic so long it smells like a mixture of mold and “old person” because she only takes it out when the grandkids come over to visit every summer during the State Fair and it’s too hot to use a blanket because she never bothered to get air conditioning after the old box unit overheated and melted down that one wall outlet …