MOVIE REVIEWS: Short Reviews of Films Playing at 1600 N. Broad Street
If you didn’t know that Denzel Washington’s latest film, “Fences”, was an adaptation of a play, then within the first ten minutes, you’ll probably get that idea. For one, it’s a very talky movie in which people have long, sprawling conversations about stuff that doesn’t really seem to matter, except only to be used as an excuse so that these actors can act their butts off. Which works, too, because when you have a cast including not just Washington, but Viola Davis, Mykelti Williamson, and the always undervalued Stephen Henderson, it’s not hard to be compelled. The story itself is pretty simple – Washington plays Troy Maxon, a former baseball player who could have made it in the big time, but because he was black and it was the 1940’s, America just wasn’t all that ready for a black baseball player who’s name wasn’t Jackie Robinson. Davis plays Troy’s wife, Rose, and she stands by him through the thick and thin, which after a while, means a lot, as Troy does a lot over the next two hours to turn all of his friends and family against him. As an actor’s showcase, “Fences” works quite well, but when it comes to feeling like anything but a filmed-play, it doesn’t quite connect.
3 out of 5 Stars
A group of 5,000 passengers are currently awaiting their arrival to a new planet in 90 years. However, in order to stay alive long enough to do so, they get aboard a space ship where they are cryogenically frozen for the 90 years, so that they stay the same age and everything is all fine and dandy when they wake up. However, a malfunction occurs and all of a sudden, one passenger named Jim (Chris Pratt) suddenly wakes up. Jim looks for each and every way that he can find to go back to sleep and act as if this never happened, but he just can’t, leaving him all alone on the spaceship, with no one to really talk to or connect with for the next 90 years. And then, another passenger named Aurora (Jennifer Lawrence) suddenly wakes up and both of their lives change forever. Of course, there’s a little more to “Passengers” than I or the ads for the movie let on. It’s the kind of twist that ruins a movie if you know about it beforehand and also ruins the movie once you see how it all plays out. For the first hour or so, “Passengers” works as a smart, thoughtful and well-acted sci-fi tale, which we don’t usually see Hollywood play around with.Though, by the halfway mark, it loses its head and begins to delve into twists and turns that make no sense and characters start to act totally and completely insane for the sake of moving the plot forward. It’s a disappointment in the end, as much as Pratt and Lawrence try to make it all work out.
2.5 out of 5 Stars
In “Sing”, the latest from the creators of “Despicable Me”, a bunch of really famous and talented people voice walking, talking and singing animals, who are all competing in a local singing competition. It’s a neat gimmick that does work, but mostly, for kids. There’s so much slapstick, pop song sing-a-longs and corny themes about motivation and inspiration that the kids will love. Parents may grow a tad bit tired about halfway through the near two-hour run-time. Still though, if you’re a parent or have younger siblings and need to get them a belated holiday gift, there’s worse ways to spend your time, I guess.
2.5 out of 5 Stars