Crouching Now Playing, Hidden Dragon

By: Jeff Ford
By: Jeff Ford

Previewing the Good, Bad and Ugly of Life of Pi, Red Dawn and Rise of the Guardians

 

Happy Thanksgiving! Before we can dine on turkey legs and delicious stuffing, we might as well over indulge ourselves with a few new releases, all being released on Wednesday. Without further ado, let’s take a boat ride with a tiger.
 
 
A young man who survives a disaster at sea is hurtled into an epic journey of adventure and discovery. While cast away, he forms an unexpected connection with another survivor ... a fearsome Bengal tiger. *
 
The Good – Academy Award winning director Ang Lee (Hulk) brings us this adaptation of the award winning novel from Yann Martel. There are already talks that this film could win big come February, when the Oscars are announced. The brief 3D glimpse that was showcased before many films this summer already has me excited to watch it in that dreaded format. The fish that whizzed on by the camera had me flinching for cover. I also have faith in Ang Lee. I’ve yet to be disappointed by his films (even the much decried Hulk. In fact I prefer that version to the more action packed Edward Norton turn). He has my faith in delivering a top notch film.
 
The Bad – Then again, it’s a movie where a large portion of it takes place in a tiny boat with only an actor and a tiger. Newcomer Suraj Sharma has to be stellar for this to work. Even a veteran like Tom Hanks struggled to hold Cast Away together when it was only him on an island talking to a volleyball. But if any director can coax a great performance out of an actor, it’s Ang Lee.
 
The Ugly – M. Night Shyamalan was the original writer/director for this film. Based on Shymalan’s other films, I would guess it would have ended with a white guy cast as the Indian main star and the tiger being dead the entire time.
 
Life of Pi is rated PG for emotional thematic content throughout, and some scary action sequences and peril.
 
 
A group of teenagers look to save their town from an invasion of North Korean soldiers. *
 
The Good – Red Dawn is a remake of the 1984 John Milius (Conan the Barbarian) cult classic. Instead of the Russians, this time the United States are invaded by the North Koreans. Leading the charge against the reds are Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Kentucky Native Josh Hutcherson (Firehouse Dog) and Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Losers). 
 
There’s a fascinating back history with this production. It was originally shot back in 2009 with the Chinese as the villains. This was changed in Post Production to the North Koreans to not upset the Chinese market.  The filmmakers had to digitally alter all flags and insignias. It was also set to be released a few years ago, but the main production company MGM suffered through financial troubles and had to shelve this and many other movies (including another Hemsworth film, Cabin in the Woods). It wasn’t until last year that someone picked it up for distribution, choosing today to bring it out. Will the long delay help bring in the hype? No. The reason why is up ahead.
 
The Bad – Why did this film have to be remade? I question the need for so many recent remakes. While I know the ultimate reason why it was remade (it’s always about the money), the 80’s film still holds up as a camp classic. How could anybody think Thor could replace Patrick Swayze? The film also had a pre-crazed Charlie Sheen and pre nose job Jennifer Grey. Not to mention the Russians were a greater threat, considering this was released during the Cold War hysteria. I don’t see any way that film could be topped.
 
The Ugly – Ahem… WOLVERINES!!!
 
Red Dawn is rated PG-13 for sequences of intense war violence and action, and for language.
 
 
When the evil spirit Pitch launches an assault on Earth, the Immortal Guardians team up to protect the innocence of children all around the world. *
 
The Good – Jack Frost (Chris Pine), Santa Claus (Alec Baldwin), the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher), and the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman) are the Guardians that protect us in this Dreamworks animated film from the makers of How to Train Your Dragon. I had initial misgivings about the Dragon film until I sat down to watch it. That turned out to be one of the better non-Pixar animated movies I’ve seen in recent years. In fact, it surpassed a few of the Pixar films, like this year’s Brave. From the trailers alone, I have faith that the team has crafted another stellar output. It filled me with a sense of wonder and enjoyment that the best live action adventure films can muster. 
 
The Bad – This mishmash of childhood icons recalls another sorting of fictional literary characters banding together to fight a great evil. That film is League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. That movie was far from mediocre, barely scrapping underneath the horrible label. While the comparison hasn’t affected me completely, it still gives me pause that it can recall such schlock.
 
The Ugly – From the trailers, I don’t think I would mess with the Easter bunny. After all, he does have the voice of a Wolverine.
 
Rise of the Guardians is rated PG for thematic elements and some mildly scary action.
 
That will do for this week. Stay tuned next time when we sing a variation of a Lori Lieberman song. Until then, I'm just gonna stay here and listen to the wind a while, okay?
 
*all movies summaries taken from IMDB.com
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