Wind River: A Smartly Chilly Thriller in Which Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen Team Up

“Just the snow and the silence. That’s all”, these agonized words summarize the movie’s two ambient ideas: a deathly whiteout in the piercing cold and an oppressive quiet far from the city’s bustle where help in a crisis might conceivably be at hand. Screenwriter Taylor Sheridan makes his hyphenate debut as a writer-director with this gripping movie. Muscular in its confidence and storytelling punch, it is the kind of western forensic thriller. We get country lore and the wearing of Stetsons, and scenes with horses being treated with loving connoisseurship and respect. Still, there are also a gruesome autopsy featuring a medical examiner looking faintly eccentric and blandly un-shockable amid the gore in the time-honored manner.

The setting in Wind River is the Indian reservation of a vast wintry area of land in central of Wyoming. Here, the overstretched police force have been called to attend a crime scene of a young Native American woman, Natalie (Kelsey Asbille), found dead in the snow with a head wound and evidence of sexual assault.

An FBI agent is called in from Las Vegas, and that is Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen). She is inexperienced and physically untested but courageous, mentally tough and willing to learn. Agent Banner is way out of her depth. She needs help, particularly in talking to the Native American community, and the Comanche actor Gil Birmingham is excellent as Natalie’s grieving father, Martin. Then, Jane teams up with the guy who found the body in the first place, a professional game tracker called Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renn), who lost his own daughter some years ago in brutal circumstances.

He is used to tackling predators and offers his own off-the-record services. Cory’s own predator credentials are established with resounding force at the outset. He usually wears white camouflage garb out there in the snowy mountainside, and it looks weirdly like a hazmat suit.

The snow is the paradox of the movie. It is friend and enemy. For instance, the medical examiner says that he can’t register the cause of death as homicide but rather as the snowy cold itself. This means that a full criminal investigation can’t be mobilized, but it does force them into unofficial and very effective inquiries. Snow is what causes tracks to be visible, but the snow impedes their progress, and more snow effaces the tracks themselves.

With simplicity and style, Sheridan walks us through the various suspects and locals as Agent Banner’s learning curve and through the delicate steps of her relationship with Cory. When she comes to his apartment, a scene that is to disclose Cory’s direct interest in the case, he asks her if she’d like a drink. For a moment, we are interestingly allowed to absorb the possibility of flirtation before Cory reveals the choices he has in mind which includes milk, coffee or well water. Banner chooses water, and the tempo and mood is coolly recalibrated.

Sheridan does it by means of a single, unselfconsciously clear flashback when the complete explanation has to be produced. That lets us understand everything without the accumulation of indirect revelations that another movie might have considered essential. Still, it cancels any possible anticlimax that could follow this scene with a brutally violent sequence in the present tense.

The director is emerging as a master of the Mexican standoff, the shootout, the stomach-turning crime scene and the procedural office politics. However het goes beyond that as he’s also adept at tuning into the vulnerability and strength of the women and men called in to uphold the law. Wind River is a smart and very satisfying movie.

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Dwayne Johnson Rushes to Rescue His Collapsing World in San Andreas

The seismic swarm event in San Andreas has its pros and cons. On one hand, it tears the state of California asunder. On the other hand, it brings a family together. As is the custom in movies of this kind, destruction is both universal and selective. Two major American cities are pretty much obliterated, catastrophes that presumably cause death on a huge scale. Still, the half-dozen people we care about struggle for survival with what the conventions of genre if not the laws of nature assure us are reasonably good odds.

Those folks include Ray (Dwayne Johnson) and Emma (Carla Gugino) as a separated couple with one signature away from divorce. Ray flies a rescue helicopter for the Los Angeles Fire Department. Emma is about to move in with her new super-rich real estate developer boyfriend, Daniel (Ioan Gruffudd). The contrast between two men might be summarized in an Internet dating-service questionnaire of who should you choose, a guy with jet and limo or a guy driving a Subaru.

Once the big quake hits, Emma and Ray reunite to search for their daughter Blake (Alexandra Daddario). Their daughter has gone up to San Francisco with Daniel on her way back to college. For reasons succinctly explained by the movie’s resident expert, the Big One is heading for the Bay Area, so the panicked parents must race against the clock to save their daughter. In a meanwhile, Blake has befriended a pair of British brothers (Hugo Johnstone-Burt and Art Parkinson) who fulfill both the cute-romantic-interest and the impish-sidekick quotas.

The dialogue is not very much as it consists mainly of variations on “Hurry up!”, “Get out of the way!” “Oh my god!” and “Let’s go get our daughter”. That is what it should be. Eloquence is the first casualty of disaster, though the seismologist does manage to issue a clear and cogent warning. San Andreas, for its part, delivers a perfectly sensible message which is listening to scientists.

The ground-level action is a series of problem-solving challenges, which are stressful, in a fun kind of way, to observe. However, in a movie like this, the big money is spent on images of extensive devastation, and so while some would-be blockbusters stake their special-effects budgets on laying waste to just one North American city, San Andreas goes for two, or three if you count Bakersfield.

Throughout the movie, the most disturbing thing may be how dull and routine it seems. Computer-generated imagery can produce remarkably detailed vistas of disaster, but the technology also has a way of stripping such spectacles of impact and interest. We have seen so many of them recently that it’s hard not to shrug, stifle a yawn and reach for the popcorn when the Golden Gate Bridge once again buckles and sways and drops vehicles into the bay. The movie might be a reflection of those fears, and also of the rest of the country’s love-hate relationship with its most populous state.

San Andreas movie might also express a bit of intrastate rivalry represented by the larger cities most identified with them in the popular imagination, and the SoCal bias is pretty clear as Los Angeles is battered, but San Francisco is much harder hit, and it’s the home base for the closest thing the movie has to a villain, a soulless incarnation of selfishness and greed. The guy who saves the day is a public employee, and probably a union member. Liberal Hollywood strikes again

San Andreas is rated PG-13 with afew bumps and bruises, and a handful of profanities. It’s nobody’s fault.

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How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ major selling point

For more than 30 years, How the Grinch Stole Christmas has been a holiday season TV classic. The 22-minute cartoon, based on the book by Dr. Seuss and narrated by Boris Karloff, has enchanted multiple generations of children (not to mention adults), and, even with its ready availability on video, it still draws a sizable viewing audience every time it is broadcast.

With the likely exception of the Peanuts Christmas Special, no other seasonal program is as adored and respected as this classic. So, in deciding to transform it into a 90-minute, live action motion picture, director Ron Howard has taken a sizable risk. There are no doubt those who will regard the film as a sacrilege of the most heinous kind.

To Howard’s credit, he has worked extremely hard to keep the spirit of the animated Grinch intact. The text of the Dr. Seuss novel is in place, even though many of it has been added to pad out the running time. In addition, the songs from the TV show have also been incorporated into the movie, though the film adaption of “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” could have used a bit less livening up (the simple rendition in the cartoon is more appreciated).

The bright, colorful set design amazes, effectively conveying the happy hamlet of Whoville from the cartoon world to the fantasy-reality one. Of course, one might legitimately ask why, if so much attention was being paid to replicating the animated look and feel in a live action medium, this movie was deemed necessary in the first place.

The answer is no doubt money – How the Grinch Stole Christmas is most likely to make a lot of it. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad film – in fact, it’s quite entertaining – but commercial, not creative or artistic, considerations have brought it to the screen.

The film begins with almost one hour of background material about the Grinch and Whoville that was not in either Seuss’ novel or the TV special. We learn all kinds of interesting tidbits intended to fill in supposed “holes” in Grinch lore (not that anyone really noticed).

We are here to understand why the Grinch hates Christmas (it has more to do with bad childhood experiences than with a heart that’s two sizes too small), why he has it in for the Mayor of Whoville, and why Little Cindy Lou-Who spots his soft side so effortlessly.

At last, at about the movie’s two-thirds point, the narrative switches over to following the novel letter-for-letter, and we get a notably faithful re-creation of the cartoon. There is a difference in tone between the two parts of the movie – the part that follows the novel is smoother, has perhaps more narration, and consistently rhymes, while the remainder has a “tacked on” feel. Children won’t notice, however, and the shift isn’t glaring enough that it will bother most grownups – even those who have sat through the TV special countless times.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas‘ major selling point isn’t nostalgia or great production values – it’s rather Jim Carrey. Buried underneath Rick Baker’s flexible makeup, he’s a dead ringer for the creature, yet, though he isn’t physically recognizable, there’s no doubt who’s under all of the green latex and hair.

Lately, Carrey has been working on advancing a reputation as a serious actor, however, in concert with Me, Myself & Irene, How the Grinch Stole Christmas enables him to get back to the kind of antics that made him famous in the first place. His brilliant performance is reminiscent of what he achieved in The Mask, except that here he never lets the special effects upstage him. Carrey’s Grinch is a mixture of Seuss’ creation and Carrey’s personality, with a voice that seems far more like a strange amalgamation of Sean Connery and Jim Backus (Bond meets Magoo!) than it does Karloff.

The character to benefit the most from the script is perhaps Little Cindy Lou-Who, portrayed by charismatic newcomer Taylor Momsen. Cindy is the Grinch’s advocate in Whoville, the sole person who sees the goodness buried deep within. Like the three ghosts in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, she represents the catalyst that transforms the cold-hearted Grinch from a Scrooge into the holiday’s biggest advocate and most devout celebrant. Momsen is amazing in the part; she manages to be adorable without being intolerable – a challenging task for a young actress who probably got the job since she was more adorable than the other would-bes dying for the role.

In addition to Carrey and Momsen, the other actors don’t leave much impression. Jeffrey Tambor portrays the Mayor of Whoville, a man whose hatred against the Grinch dates back to when they were both eight years old. Christine Baranski is the woman who has secretly fallen for the Grinch since before his self-imposed exile to Mount Crumpet.

And Molly Shannon and Bill Irwin join the cast as Little Cindy’s parents. The film is narrated by Anthony Hopkins, who uses his rich voice to set a non-menacing tone. How the Grinch Stole Christmas is a fable; it is intended to be entertaining and uplifting but never scary, no matter how frightening the title character might think of himself.

Putting aside the question of whether the movie is necessary in the overall scheme of things, How the Grinch Stole Christmas represents a solid hour and a half of genuine family entertainment. Unlike most live action movies making a similar claim, there is no toilet humor (apparently, Dr. Seuss’ widow had something to do with that), making this a refreshingly “clean” comedy.

For Carrey, whose caged energy is released, this falls just short of a tour de force. Last year, he became Andy Kaufman; this year, it’s the Grinch. He brings animation to the live action, and, surrounded by glittering, amazing sets and computer-spun special effects, Carrey allows Ron Howard’s version of the iconic tale to come across as more of a welcome endeavor than a pointless re-tread.

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How the Grinch Stole Christmas Is Just Fascinating

In 1957, Theodor S. Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss) wrote How the Grinch Stole Christmas, a book for children about a reclusive, yule-loathing creature as green as a crab apple and twice as sour. Atop an icy mountain, the Grinch would pout and seethe at the jubilant inhabitants of Whoville below.

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A Grinchly Christmas tradition. But the wuzzles, farflooters and roast beast soon all got to be too much for him and the Grinch decided to invade Whoville as an anti-Santa bent on pilfering every sign and symbol of holiday spirit. Of course, it was the innocence of a child, little Cindy Lou Who (who was just two years old), and the non-commercial community of Whoville that pumped up the Grinch’s heart and turned that grumpy curmudgeon into a roast beast-carving party animal.

ON THE TUBE: Dr. Seuss’ tale was such a hit that it became a television special in 1966. The 30-minute classic, full of Geisel’s signature illustrations and nonsensical rhymes, has become a seasonal family favorite along with Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman. The animated version was directed by Chuck Jones (whose longtime career produced countless Bugs Bunny and Tom & Jerry cartoons), narrated by 1930s horror icon Boris Karloff (best known for Frankenstein, The Mummy) and features addicting songs such as “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” (sung by Thurl Ravenscroft, perhaps best known as the voice of Tony the Tiger). Who didn’t grow up watching The Grinch? Here in the United States it has become an annual rite of passage as parents introduce their children to that creepy green dude whose heart grows ten sizes overnight and proves that no one is beyond redemption.

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THE GRINCH GOES HOLLYWOOD: That built-in audience for a live-action Grinch is one of the reasons studios have been wrangling for the film rights for years. Universal won. And boy did it win! The Grinch earned $55 million opening weekend. Said to have cost nearly $120 million to produce, this newest incarnation of Dr. Seuss’ time-honored story spends more time expanding on the ancient story than actually telling it. The scheming Grinch’s familiar plot to undermine Christmas in Whoville serves as the final third of Ron Howard’s film. The first 2/3 of the film putter around Whoville, explain how The Grinch got into town and grew so bitter, and basically give star Jim Carrey a chance to go crazy and rave beneath hideous makeup. In this version, Cindy Lou is more than two. In fact, she’s closer to six, which allowed the filmmakers to expand her role as well. The result is a sugared-up mixture of nostalgia and modern pop culture references set against a gaudy, occasionally creepy backdrop.

positive elements: A young girl believes the best of a social outcast, inspiring the residents of Whoville to not only invite the miserly Grinch to their celebration, but to make him honorary Cheer-meister. Instead of merely buying into local lore, Cindy Lou tries to understand the nasty old Grinch (she realized that childhood persecution brought about the creature’s antisocial personality). When her kindness appears to have backfired, her faithful dad publicly expresses his pride in her just the same. The Grinch’s change of heart reminds audiences that even the coldest heart can be redeemed by love. The Grinch reluctantly does the right thing by rescuing Cindy Lou from a frightening fate. The final message is that the real meaning of Christmas is not about materialism, however …

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spiritual content: Despite Cindy Lou’s search for the true meaning of Christmas, she and the storytellers miss the “Hope Diamond” and settle for a “cubic zirconium.” Sure, kindness and community are better than coldhearted commercialism, but that still misses the point, which is Jesus’ birth. There’s no mention of worship or church in this Christmas story. The warm fuzzies are all well and good, but once the Whos tire of joining hands around their enormous Christmas tree and singing in unison, the Christ child will have no place in their celebration. It’s a sad omission that has cheapened this otherwise noble story since the beginning.

sexual content: The Grinch is thrown headlong into the shapely Martha May Whovier and lands with his face buried in her cleavage. A subtle line suggests marital infidelity between a woman and her boss.

violent content: Many gags involve prankishness, mischief or flat-out vandalism. Physical humor aside, violence is less of an issue than disrespect, the destruction of property and several scenes that could frighten young children (such as when Cindy Lou falls head-first into a sorting machine).

explicit language: The Grinch uses a lot the expression, bitchin’. He grabs mistletoe, pulls it over his backside and screams, “Pucker up and kiss it, Whoville!”

drug or alcohol use: A swig of alcohol serves as fuel for a fire when The Grinch personally blowtorches a Christmas tree.

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other negative elements: The Grinch lies to Cindy Lou. He devours broken glass, mugs a yodeler, shaves the mayor’s hair off and belches green fumes into a man’s face. Based on the way he mistreats his canine sidekick, Max, The Grinch may get a visit from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. In his sleep, the Mayor kisses Max on the rear end. During the song, “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” the line “you’ve got termites in your smile” gets extremely gross as the camera closes in on a bug-infested grin. And as the title suggests, he’s a vengeful thief.

conclusion: Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas definitely has its moments. It’s fun to see classic cartoon bits replicated so faithfully with real actors (such as when the Grinch sneaks across the floor horizontally on fingertips and tiptoes). And just as Jim Carrey’s unbridled shenanigans threaten to push this overstuffed sleigh of a film past the brink, Anthony Hopkins’ calming narration reins it in nicely. If only the “new material” weren’t so distracting.

The back story is occasionally interesting, but much of the information gleaned about the Grinch is dreary rather than uplifting. Like the song says, he’s “a mean one,” which gets tiresome here because it’s drawn out over more than 90 minutes before he has his life-changing epiphany. Meanwhile, his cave is neo-Oscar the Grouch (“One man’s toxic sludge is another man’s potpourri,” he explains as he sifts through Who garbage for home decorating ideas). A flashback of The Grinch in grade school makes him look like a spray-painted Eddie Munster suffering from a bad hair day. All in all, it was just a little too reminiscent of Tim Burton’s work to earn an enthusiastic recommendation for families with young children.

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Having said that, teens should have no trouble with the film’s tone or its content. Dr. Seuss’ widow, 79-year-old Audrey Geisel, reportedly sent the script back several times before granting her approval. “There were too many bathroom jokes,” she told Newsweek. Good for her. This live-action Grinch is better for her involvement. And as Jim Carrey pictures go, it’s downright wholesome. Still, it earned its PG rating for elements that will have many adults scratching their heads, wondering if it was all really necessary.

special DVD features: The greatest theatrical hit of the 2000 holiday season boasts more than a few “special features” on DVD, but don’t expect hours and hours of rewatchable entertainment. Sure, it’s interesting to peek in on Charles Croughwell’s “Who School” and see layers of Rick Baker’s latex makeup being applied to the cast. But the behind-the-scenes featurettes average a scant six minutes each, looking more impressive bulleted on the box cover than they do on the screen. The three-minute gag reel of bumbles, miscues, blown lines and playfulness isn’t nearly as much fun as it should be considering there’s so much of Jim Carrey, who was hilarious during the end credits of Liar Liar (this particular feature also includes a mild profanity that may take parents by surprise). And instead of a commentary track with director Ron Howard or producer Brian Grazer (there’s no commentary at all), we get a Wholiday Recipe for onion sandwiches and shameless commercials for Universal’s theme parks hiding under the heading “The Grinch’s Special Offer.” Not the kind of bonuses likely to satisfy true videophiles.

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The “Max’s Playhouse” area should be good for about 30 minutes of enjoyment by 5- to 10-year-olds. “Dress the Grinch” is the DVD equivalent of paper dolls as children can put the green guy in doctor’s duds, lederhosen, pajamas, etc. “Rhyme Time” lets children fill in the blanks of four rhymes from the story by choosing a pair of words from an adjacent list. However, with the exception of a read-along storybook, they’re not the kind of activities most kids will return to more than once.

Beyond seeing director Ron Howard done up as the Grinch, this DVD’s most memorable element is its 10-minute look at the film’s visual effects work. With over 600 effects shots accounting for 43 minutes of screen time, there’s a lot to talk about. And it’s fascinating. From the opening title sequence (featuring a world within a single snowflake) to clever tricks of the trade, it’s the strongest of all of the bonus materials. There’s also a brilliant DVS (Descriptive Video Service) component that offers blind or visually impaired audiences narrated descriptions of major visual elements. A nice touch. But with those exceptions, The Grinch’s special features are more Ho-Hum than Ho-Ho-Ho.

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Be Careful Of The Grinch In Dr. Seuss’ “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”

Ugh. The shrill, overstuffed, spiritless cinematic contraption being marketed under the label ”Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas” is a depressing reminder that when Hollywood decides to lavish more than $100 million on a beloved children’s story, that money has to go somewhere. The movie is so clogged with kooky gadgetry and special effects and glitter and goo that watching it feels like being gridlocked at Toys ”R” Us during the Christmas rush. Both the film and its omnivorous star, Jim Carrey, who seems to change voices every few seconds, come at you from so many directions at once that half the time you don’t know where to look or how to react.

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Mr. Carrey’s wrinkled green-faced Grinch is relentless. Determined at all costs to be recognizable through his furry costume, the star regularly breaks character to address the camera and fire off smart-aleck remarks and references like ”dude” and ”faaabulous.” These showoff antics may lend the movie a contemporary edge, but their underlying cynicism is a profoundly corrupting influence.

The moral of the original tale says that Christmas can’t be bought in a store. Although the movie dutifully peddles the same message, here it is all but buried underneath the tonnage of junk and gimmickry, saccharine music (by James Horner) and a tale that depicts the residents of Whoville as pig-snouted toy people who are nearly as selfish and mean-spirited as the Grinch himself.

Once upon a time (in 1957, to be exact) there appeared a slender children’s book of line drawings and clever verses that playfully fused the enchanted tone of ”A Visit From St. Nicholas” (better known as ”The Night Before Christmas”) with the message of Dickens’s ”Christmas Carol.” In this captivating fable, ”How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” a hirsute Scrooge-like sourpuss loathes Christmas so much he decides to ruin it for the happy residents of Whoville.

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Descending from his lair atop Mount Crumpit in a sleigh driven by his dog, Max (with attached reindeer horns), he impersonates Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, dives down the town’s chimneys and makes off with everyone’s presents. When a little girl named Cindy Lou catches sight of him stealing a Christmas tree, he lies and tells her he’s only taking it away to fix a broken light.

But the next morning, when the Grinch finds the Whovillians still singing their songs of holiday joy, he gives in to the Christmas spirit, returns their goodies and ends up in Whoville magnanimously carving up the ”roast beast” he had stolen.

With minimal fiddling, the book was turned into a delightful animated short in 1966 narrated by Boris Karloff, who intoned the rhymes of the author, Theodor S. Geisel, with just the right mixture of Lionel Barrymore-esque gravity and Grinchlike creepiness. Here, Anthony Hopkins, who supplies the narration, inflects the verses with a slight tang of Hannibal Lecter.

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It’s not Mr. Hopkins’s fault that the poetry now seems clumsily shoehorned into the movie to supply obligatory credibility. Amid all the wisecracks, pyrotechnics and action-adventure-paced frolic, Geisel’s deft, witty rhymes often seem extraneous, and even anachronistically out of place. In the movie’s fitful attempts to illustrate the verse, it does grating things like taking a funny nonsensical rhyme (from a ditty in the animated film) about the Grinch having termites in his smile and flashing a horror-movie image of the Grinch’s teeth crawling with termites.

The fable itself is so slender that to become a feature-length film it had to be pumped up with a background story. Thus we see the Grinch as an infant foundling deposited in a basket on a Whoville doorstep. An ornery, rebellious child, ridiculed for looking different, he is mercilessly taunted by his peers and eventually flees Whoville to settle in a garbage-littered cave atop Mount Crumpit.

The new story gives him a childhood crush on the snooty but beauteous Martha May Whovier (Christine Baranski), who in her vanity and avarice is almost as objectionable as the Grinch himself. We are also introduced to Whoville’s pompous chief executive, Mayor May Who (Jeffrey Tambor), whose royal pretensions are shown by his fondness for ermine-trimmed Henry VIII-style robes.

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Virtue in Whoville is personified by Cindy Lou (Taylor Momsen), a pretty, pigtailed little girl, whose character has been blown up from a walk-on into an adorable little angel and the only resident of Whoville who sees good inside the Grinch. When this fearless child pays visits to the Grinch, he tries to scare her off. But all his combative huffing and puffing only make her laugh. On top of its absurd psychologizing about the poor, persecuted little Grinch, the sympathy of Cindy Lou Who is the film’s last corrupting straw.

Every so often, beneath the layers of gadgetry and glitter and its two million feet of Styrofoam (according to the production notes), you can glimpse what might have been an enchanted family movie. But if the quasi-medieval architecture, inventive costumes and goofy hairdos and snouts create a storybook atmosphere, the screen is so densely packed with stuff that it all tends to melt into a jumble.

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Although ”The Grinch” was directed by the usually sensible Ron Howard, it doesn’t feel like one of his films. Throughout, one senses an underlying tension between his desire to make a warmhearted holiday movie and the need to magnify the personality of its star. Mr. Carrey’s ability to penetrate his character’s disguise and get away with his usual mugging and clowning is technically no small accomplishment. In the right situations, Mr. Carrey may be a comic genius. But here his ferocity is largely misdirected. Aided and abetted by the producers’ desperate, anything-for-an-effect aesthetic of excess, the star ends up hijacking the film.

”Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas” is rated PG (Parental Guidance suggested). Very young children might be frightened by the Grinch in his more monstrous moments.

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HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS: “One man’s toxic sludge is another man’s potpourri.”

The Grinch who ruined Christmas has a reason for being so bitter of life growing up. As a child, he was picked on for being green and having hair all over his body and a beard. Show me the child who would not pick on such a classmate and I will show you Baby Jesus. But if “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas” had only worked on that angle some more, had drummed up a little more sympathy for the Grinch, maybe we wouldn’t want to pick on him too.

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This is a movie that devotes enormous resources to the mistaken belief that children and their parents want to see a dank, eerie, weird movie about a sour creature who lives on top of a mountain of garbage, scares children, is mean to his dog, and steals everyone’s Christmas presents. Yes, How the Grinch Stole Christmas film has a happy ending, and even a saintly little girl who believes the Grinch is not that all bad, but there’s not much happiness before the ending, and the little girl is more of a plot device than a character.

The Grinch is portrayed by the one and only Jim Carrey, who works as hard as an actor has ever worked in a film, to small avail. He leaps, he tumbles, he contorts, he sneers, he grimaces, he taunts, he flies through the air and tunnels through the garbage mountain, he gets stuck in chimneys and blown up in explosions, and all the time. . . .

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Well, he’s not Jim Carrey. After John Travolta and Robin Williams were paid tons of millions to feature inside unrecognizable makeup in “Battlefield Earth” and “Bicentennial Man,” respectively, did it seem to anyone that when viewers go to a film with a big star, they buy their tickets in the hopes of being able to see that star? Jim Carrey has hidden behind invented masks before, in “The Mask,” for instance, but his Grinch, with his pig-snout nose and Mr. Hyde hairstyle, looks more like a perverse wolfman than the hero of a comedy.

The movie uses gigantic sets, lots of special effects and trick photography to create Whoville, which is inside a snowflake, and where all the Whos live in merry jollity, preparing for Christmas. The Grinch resides in a cave on the mountain of garbage that towers over the town, brooding and gnashing and recalling old wounds and childhood bad memories. Eventually the happiness below is so unbearable to him that he descends on the town and steals all the Christmas presents, and only the touching faith of little Cindy Lou Who (Taylor Momsen) redeems him.

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But the general outlines of the story, expanded here, will be familiar from Dr. Seuss’ book. What is strange is how the inspiration of his drawings has been expanded almost grotesquely into a world so unattractive and menacing. Red is the dominant color in the palate–not Santa red, but a kind of grungy, brownish red, so much of it we yearn to slake our eyes on green or blue. The picture appears to have been shot through a subtle filter that just slightly blurs everything, and the result is not so delightful. All of the characters, as I have mentioned, have noses that look like atrophied upturned pig snouts, which is nice if you like atrophied upturned pig snouts, but not if you don’t.

The balance is off. There should be more sequences showing sympathy for the Grinch, fewer shots establishing his meanness, more takes to make the townspeople look interesting, a jollier production design and a brighter look overall. I am not a mind-reader and cannot be sure, but I think a lot of children are going to look at this movie with perplexity and distaste. It’s just not much fun. Grownups may appreciate Carrey’s incredible performance in an intellectual kind of way and give him points for what was obviously a supreme effort, but the storyline doesn’t give the Grinch any help. Of course, I may be wrong. As the Grinch himself observes, “One man’s toxic sludge is another man’s potpourri.” Or vice versa, I’m afraid.

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Johnny English Reborn Review

Rowan Atkinson returns as Johnny English, in a sequel that not many people were asking for. It’s easy to dismiss Johnny English Reborn as a belated cash-in sequel. After all, the movie isn’t such a movie being ever demanded.

There’s a good reason for that as Johnny English not being very good. Making a movie of a character used for a credit card commercial met inevitable criticism. Yet, the movie actually turned into a reasonably sizeable hit.

It’s Rowan Atkinson that deserve credits for making the movie’s success. Even when working with sloppy material and half-baked scenarios, Atkinson is still an immensely skilled and gifted comedy performer. He throws much of what he has at the role of Johnny English. That is his face-pulls and tone of voice that give the film a little bit of life. Being funny Bond-like movie is the secret behind Johnny English’s success.

That is where the problem comes. With full appreciation of comedy, Johnny English Reborn isn’t funny at all. The movie carries around a script chock-full of contrived set-ups and bad jokes, and it’s a lead weight around the movie. No matter how much gusto Rowan Atkinson throws himself into things, it’s a virtually mirth-free 100 minutes that you get for your money.

There’s nothing clever about the humor, and that isn’t quite a problem itself. Although, it does fail to mine the many glorious opportunities that the Bond franchise in particular offers for spoofing. I should say that the majority of those of us who have seen the film weren’t impressed at all.

Still, there was one vehement counter-argument. It might be that, seen with the right audience and with expectations low, you may get a lot of out of the movie, or it might just be that you love it anyway. As we said before, comedy really is subjective, and that’s very much the case with Johnny English Reborn.

In my opinion, in a year where The InBetweeners Movie and Bridesmaids show that laughs of all kinds are possible to generate, I found Johnny English Reborn as a real slog. The most disappointing about the movie is that Rowan Atkinson, a genuine first class comedy talent, continues to do work such as Johnny English Reborn and Mr. Beans. For those who has seen his stand-up and his still-unmatched portrayal of Blackadder, that’s perhaps the most tragic thing of all.

All in all, it isn’t worth anything to see Johnny English Reborn since there are no real comedy or action in this movie. Unless you are crazy fan of Rowan Atkinson, don’t waste your time watching the movie.

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Surprising Lion King Easter Egg Found in New Black Panther Trailer

With all of the excitement surrounding Avengers: Infinity War coming out next year, it’s been a little easy to forget that Marvel has some other irons in the fire for 2018. Most notably, Black Panther is set to arrive in February and Marvel Studios has just released a brand new, full-length trailer for the movie, which is completely awesome. And, in a bit of a surprising twist, the new Black Panther trailer appears to contain a very cool Easter egg for Disney’s The Lion King.

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Shortly after the second Black Punter trailer debuted online, the UrbanNoize2 Twitter account posted some side-by-side shots of the new Black Panther trailer next to some shots from the animated classic The Lion King. The resemblance is a little strange and is either a very cool, deliberate homage from director Ryan Coogler, or a delightful accident. It seems a little more like the former but, either way, it’s pretty cool.

The scene in question comes at a point in the Black Panther trailer where we see Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa having a spiritual experience in the jungles of Wakanda. He approaches a tree that features many panthers hanging out in it, quite possibly symbolic of the other men who have held the mantle of Black Panther over the years before him. But the tree, and the mysterious and mystic color painting the sky, is very reminiscent of certain scenes in The Lion King. Specifically, Rafiki’s ancient tree and Mufasa’s image in the sky above Pride Rock. But the whole landscape of the shot looks to be influenced by The Lion King. It’d be tough to imagine this wasn’t at least a little deliberate.

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In Marvel’s Black Panther, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda to take the throne as king, following the tragic death of his father, T’Chaka in Captain America: Civil War. Things get complicated when an ancient enemy resurfaces, which puts T’Challa’s position as ruler of Wakanda and as Black Panther in jeopardy. Both Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) and Ulysses Kalue (Andy Serkis) are going to be making T’Challa’s life difficult in the movie. He is drawn into a conflict that puts his home and the entire world at risk. T’Challa must call on some of his allies and fight with everything he’s got in order to save Wakanda and protect his people.

As it happens, Disney is currently working on a live-action version of The Lion King, which is set for release in summer 2019 and is being directed by Jon Favreau. While it’s doubtful that anyone at Disney had Ryan Coogler throw this reference in Black Panther, it’s an interesting coincidence. You can check out the side-by-side comparison of the new Black Panther trailer and The Lion King, courtesy of the UrbanNoize2 Twitter, for yourself below. Black Panther is set to hit theaters on February 16, 2018.

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Consider yourself fortunate – not many people get to visit Wakanda as a guest of the king.

The Black Panther teaser trailer has just dropped, providing our first journey deep into the fictional African nation that is part of our world, yet another one all to its own.

The film doesn’t hit the theater until February 2018, but fans have been waiting their whole lives to see the homeland of Chadwick Boseman’s royal hero. As T’Challa, he rules over this unconquerable kingdom. As Black Panther, he makes sure it stays unconquered.

The trailer for director Ryan Coogler’s movie starts in mere situations, with baddie Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis, The Hobbit) being interrogated in a Korean holding cell by CIA operative Everett K. Ross (Martin Freeman, also The Hobbit.)

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“In that scene, they play the audience surrogate,” says Coogler. “One person knows quite a bit about Wakanda, and another person thinks they do — but they don’t. It’s just a teaser, so we don’t want to give away too much. But I thought it would be awesome to start with a character who has seen Wakanda in its true light.”

Watching this interrogation through one-way glass is T’Challa and the woman who stands as his right hand, the warrior Okoye (The Walking Dead’s Danai Gurira) who heads the Dora Milaje protective core. They need to contain this problem. It’s a matter of state. Wakanda’s secrets must stay secrets.

“What makes Panther different from other Marvel superheroes is, he doesn’t seem himself as a superhero. He sees himself as a politician,” Coogler says. “He wakes up thinking, ‘How am I going to fulfill my duties as king of this place?’”

While Klaue promises there is more to Wakanda than anyone has ever seen, we don’t have to wait long to lay eyes on it ourselves. A wealth of the ultra-rare mineral Vibranium, which has almost mystical technological properties, has allowed Wakanda to become a futurist paradise. There’s no question it is the most advanced nation on Earth, and it has used its expertise to shield itself from view.

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But within its borders, there are fissures: rival tribes who have different ideas about how it should be guided. Klaue — and Michael B. Jordan’s Erik Killmonger, an exile from the country — plan to ruin those divisions and pry open Wakanda for plunder.

Have a look at the trailer; there’s almost more to decode than even hardcore fans of the comics could hope to solve. Luckily, you got our help: Here’s Movietoday’s frame-by-frame gallery of the Black Panther trailer, which includes more clues and insight from Coogler and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige.

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