This week at the movies: Brad Pitt is still handsome during war; Guillermo Del Toro whips up a fantastical kid’s movie; Nicholas Sparks ruins romance again.
During the final days of World War 2, Brad Pitt, 50, inexplicably still handsome and youthful enough to be a sergeant, leads a ragtag group of soldiers ensconced inside a massive tank (Fury), into Germany to finish off the last of the bad guys. Featuring lots of scenes of grizzled men gritting their teeth and doing grizzled, manly things. Also stars: Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Jon Bernthal, Michael Peña.
Perfect For: You’re a fan of war movies and Brat Pitt looking inexplicably youthful and handsome, even with dirt smeared on his face.
What the Critics Say: It’s rated 69% on Rotten Tomatoes, which in high school would have been a C-. Some critics seem to think Fury’s done a fine job of being a War Movie. Others think it’s just another war movie, lowercase, nothing special. The New York Times: “Within this gore-spattered, superficially nihilistic carapace is an old-fashioned platoon picture, a sensitive and superbly acted tale of male bonding under duress.” The Newark Star-Ledger: “Fury is about the fog of war. Also the mud. The grime. The blood. The darkness, and the light. And the noise. Always the noise.”
Our Take: Oh, Brad Pitt, why so handsome all the time?
Watch the Trailer:
Book of Life
Guillermo Del Toro, acclaimed director and producer of fantastical surrealist grown up movies like Pan’s Labyrinth and the Hellboy flicks, wades into children’s fare (he’s also done Kung Fu Panda 2). Book of Life, directed by Jorge Gutierrez, is appropriately trippy for a Del Toro production. The animated flick, voiced by Diego Luna, Zoe Saldana and Channing Tatum, looks like a more whimsical version of A Nightmare Before Christmas, and has a plot that resembles a “choose your own adventure” tale. Manolo, about to woo the girl of his dreams, is snatched away and whisked into this mysterious underworld, where he must complete three tasks to get the girl back and save his village.
Perfect For: You like imaginative children’s movies.
What the Critics Say: Pretty good, but not amaaaaazing. Plot is so-so; visuals are stunning. USA Today: “The dizzying, intricate imagery is so beautiful, and the Latin-inspired songs catchy enough that the overall effect is often enchanting.” Variety: “A lively animated tale that mixes age-old myths with today's toon tropes. But what lovely visuals they are.”
Our Take: It looks almost as pretty as Brad Pitt.
Watch the Trailer:
The Best of Me
Based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks, the man who gave us the weepy romance drama The Notebook, tells the story of young love, lost, and reunited 20 years later. The young lovers are played by Luke Bracey and Liana Liberato, and the couple 20 years older (which for the teenagers flocking to see this movie, must seem like reaaaaaaalllllly oooooold, duuuuude) are played by two people who look nothing like the other actors, James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan. The only lesson learned is that if you start out life as a young, blonde guy, you will somehow magically morph into a chiseled dark-haired, blue-eyed, James Marsden. Someone take Nicholas Spark’s typewriter from him so that Hollywood stops making his books into movies.
Perfect For: I am not even sure that fans of The Notebook will go along with this. Nope.
What the Critics Say: “Fool, do you think we are blind and dumb?” Writes Roger Moore of McClatchy-Tribune Services: “Monaghan and Marsden swim against the torpid tide of tripe that is Nicholas Sparks, and eventually give up and sink beneath it.” Stefan Pape, a blogger, sums it up best: “The most vexing, and detrimental aspect to this picture, is the laughable choice of casting for the younger Dawson Cole.”
Our Take: Nope, nope, nope.
Watch the Trailer: