With piracy drama 'Captain Phillips,' Paul Greengrass ('Bloody Sunday,' 'United 93') has defended his ground as the go-to man for tragic, reality-based pressure-cooker films. The dude really knows how to get your palms sweaty, even when you kinda-sorta know how things are going to end up. Note to self: don't take your cargo ship through the Somali Basin if you don't have to.
Greengrass is also the director of the best two 'Bourne' movies ('Supremacy' and 'Ultimatum') and just as Matt Damon glided through those films as the steely, mixed-martial killing machine, Tom Hanks' center-seat performance here is a master class in keeping it cool.
Is it possible to hate something and yet, at the same time, recognize its greatness? This is a heavy philosophical question and one that I'd like to discuss with you. Anything to get these insufferably catchy tunes from 'Les Miserables' out of my head.
Pop culture enthusiasts can be forgiven if they approach Peter Jackson's J.R.R. Tolkien prequel trilogy thinking about 'Star Wars.' Will this next (but previous!) chapter in one of Fandom's key franchises broaden the cinematic universe we love so much, or will this be another case where they should have let enough alone?
Well, as is so frequently the case in life, I can't give you such a black and white answer. For starters, we may not be able to fully analyze 'The Hobbit' until all three chapters are in. Nevertheless here we are and 'An Unexpected Journey' does, indeed, have a lot going for it. It is also saddled with tangents, jabberjaw scenes that never end and far too many beats whose sole function is to remind you how much you love the original 'Lord of the Rings' films.
My wife doesn't follow movie news and is impervious to advertising. "What is this, a baseball movie?" she asked as we settled in for 'Trouble with the Curve.' "Kinda," I said. "Clint's a gruff baseball scout, out on the road with his estranged daughter." "Uh-oh," she chimed as the lights dimmed. "Life lessons!"
Life lessons indeed, and they come at you with the subtlety of an aluminum bat cranking a deep line drive. Clint, craggier than ever, begins each day arguing with his prostate, eating junk food and rooting through a stack of papers reporting high school and college score results. "He's the last scout in the majors who doesn't use a computer!" they muse at the Braves' home office. Nasty, conniving Matthew Lillard means it in a bad way, while John Goodman looks fondly upon Clint's old fashioned ways.
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