Sunday, September 28, 2014

Weekly Round-Up (9/21/14 - 9/27/14)

The Maze Runner (Wes Ball) **1/2 - I've never heard of this book before it was announced that it was to be made into a movie starring Dylan O'Brien to which I said, "What is that and who's Dylan O'Brien?" The film sets up an intriguing premise, a teenage boy finds himself commune of boys surrounded by a mysterious maze with no memory of who he is or how he got there in the first place. As the story progresses, it reveals that it's just another Hunger Games rip-off. But it's entertaining enough, it's slickly-made and the actors are fine. I wasn't bored. It's too bad most of the interesting characters were killed off (just a word of warning).

Waterloo Bridge (James Whale) ***1/2 - James Whale of course is primarily known as a horror movie director having helmed the most famous film version of Frankenstein. But his non-horror movies deserve attention too. Like this wonderful little gem. Set during the First World War (a lot of films of this era seem to be set in this time!), it's a bittersweet love story between a chorus girl turned prostitute and a young soldier. Despite the serious subject matter, Whale manages to pepper it with plenty of humor. Mae Clarke is outstanding as the chorus girl. It's a nice gem of a film.

The Boxtrolls (Graham Annable/Anthony Stacchi) ***1/2 - This is a stop-motion animated feature from LAIKA, the same company that gave us Coraline and ParaNorman. This one is not QUITE as great as those two films but it is still a wonderful piece of work. This film about misunderstood monsters has a bunch of clever gags and eye-popping visuals and like the previous two films, also kind of dark, darker (and also kind of gross) than what you can expect from what's really a kids' film. Ben Kingsley gives a fantastic voice-over performance as the villain. You can tell he is having a wonderful time hamming it up and the animation matches it. Extra points for the Monty Python references (including a song written by Eric Idle) and the wonderful end credit sequence.

3:10 to Yuma (Delmer Daves) *** - This is the 1957 original film, or should I say the first film version of the Elmore Leonard short story. This is about a peaceful rancher who is tasked to escort a prisoner to the titular train. It's a good film but I feel it is kind of standard Western fare but one thing that does make it worth checking out is Glenn Ford's performance. His Ben Wade is charming and devious and you always keep on guessing where he's coming from and what he's going to do which is of course crucial to the tense third act. It's a real solid entry to the Western genre.

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