CinemaClash Podcast: Zootopia, London Has Fallen, WTF

Check out my latest podcast with Charlie Juhl. This week, Charlie and I clash over Zootopia, London Has Fallen, and Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. He thinks my tastes are shallow. I think his are pretentious. Take a listen, and let us know what YOU think!

Zootopia

Zootopia is by far my favorite animated movie since Inside Out and a great choice for the whole family. It’s one of those Disney movies that throws a few bones to the older kids and adults in the audience without diluting its sweet and simple message about pursuing your dreams and not getting caught up in stereotypes.

Gods of Egypt

Gods of Egypt is full of pretty people, decent-enough acting, and CGI spectacle. But it’s also pretty boring. Like, epically boring. I don’t expect it to live the immortal life enjoyed by some of the gods in the movie, but it may get a second lease on life as a mediocre rental. Here’s the gist: Gods of Egypt is about a mortal named Bek (Brendon Thwaites) who calls on the powerful god Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau from Game of Thrones) to emerge from a self-imposed exile to help Bek rescue his true love. First, they must wrest control of Egypt back from Horus’s evil brother, the merciless god of darkness Set (Gerard Butler, who basically recycled his wardrobe from The 300). It’s sort of like the Disney classic Aladdin meets the 2014 dud Exodus: Gods and Kings. There’s romantic drama, action, epic battle scenes, gods that sprout wings and travel across the heavens, sibling rivalry, and – ultimately – the heartfelt message that with the right mix of courage and sacrifice, mortals and gods can work together to return Egypt to a land of peace and prosperity!

Race

It’s a shame that Race, an inspiring biopic about American track-and-field superstar Jesse Owens competing in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, and Eddie the Eagle, an inspiring biopic about an awkward British ski jumper competing against all odds in the 1988 Olympics in Calgary are both hitting theaters at about the same time (with Race first out of the gate). Both are good. Neither is great. Race has far deeper political, historical, and sports-related significance, and despite some dramatic license (and omissions), has a story and supporting characters based in fairly well-documented fact.

Eddie the Eagle

Eddie the Eagle is a feel-good movie for the masses, inspired by a true story, though dramatically boosted by fictionalized supporting characters and plot points. It’s the story of Eddie Edwards, a British ski jumper who charmed the world at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary with his goofy antics, big glasses, and determination to compete despite a definite lack of world-class athletic prowess. British actor Taron Egerton (Kingsman: The Secret Service) downplays his looks and ramps up the nerd factor to play Eddie, an underdog athlete you can’t help but root for. I read that both Steve Coogan (Philomena) and Rupert Grint (Harry Potter) were once slated to play Eddie and I could totally see either of them pulling it off as well. Ultimately, it’s what Eddie represents that makes the movie work… well, that and Hugh Jackman. ☺

The Big Short

I’m behind on my Oscar nominees viewing, but I finally caught this one. I’d expected it to be more like Margin Call, but thankfully, though its subject matter is kind of similar, it is by turns funny and horrifying. Adapted from Michael Lewis’s non-fiction bestseller “The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine,” it tells the story of how a small group of money men saw what was happening in the housing market in 2005 and set about shorting the market and making a killing. Along the way, they tried to wake banking regulators and the wider market to their realization that it was all about to go bust, but were totally ignored by those who were making money hand over fist on bad loans. It is a morality tale, very well told.

Hail, Caesar!

The Coen Brothers are prolific filmmakers, but for me their films are hit or miss. I loved No Country for Old Men, and Fargo was amazing. But then there are those utterly forgettable flicks – The Lady Killers, or Burn After Reading. I’d put Hail, Caesar! somewhere in between. It’s plenty entertaining but it isn’t going on the shelf with The Big Lebowski. It’s a lovely walk around 50s era Hollywood with a star-studded cast having a lot of fun. And if for nothing else, you should see it for Channing Tatum’s dance number.

How to Be Single

Apparently, I’m doing it all wrong. Then again, I’m not really sure what the takeaway is supposed to be for this movie. I just hope it doesn’t reel in the underage crowd hoping to see Rebel Wilson reprise her role from (the PG-13 rated) Pitch Perfect 2. How to Be Single is rated R. And the ‘R’ isn’t for romance. The movie is about hook-ups, misguided attempts to find a love connection, friendship, online algorithms, a few intangibles, a lot of sex and alcohol jokes, and other stuff related to being single in the big city. It aims to be a romantic comedy but generally misses the mark. It’s actually kind of sad. But a lot of single gals will likely gather for a cosmo or two and flock to it anyway, and others might drag the boyfriends along. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Zoolander 2

Zoolander 2 reminded me a lot of Dumb and Dumber To – a stupidly funny treat for diehard fans of the original. It’s not nearly as good as the first one, because, really, the novelty is gone. You know that former fashion model Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) will ultimately save the day with one of his signature looks, like the classic magnum, or blue steel.

45 Years

Going into the Academy Awards, Charlotte Rampling had a very good chance of winning a Best Actress statue — for a while. But her ill-conceived remarks about the diversity problems of the Academy could easily cost her a well-deserved prize for her role in 45 Years. In this quiet drama she plays a Kate, just a week away from her 45th wedding anniversary when she suddenly finds the underpinnings of her marriage in question, as a letter arrives to let her husband Geoff know that the perfectly preserved corpse of his true love Katya has been found, 50+ years after she disappeared into a crevasse in the Swiss Alps while on a hiking trip with him.