Sunday, March 16, 2014
Cindy Prascik's Reviews of Philomena & 300: Rise of an Empire
Dearest Blog, determined NOT to burn 130 minutes on video-game flick, yesterday I took a pass on the weekend's new releases and caught up on a couple movies I'd missed: Philomena and 300: Rise of an Empire.
Spoiler level here will be mild, nothing you wouldn't know or have guessed from the trailers.
My opening act was Philomena.
A woman who was sent to a convent as a pregnant teen enlists the help of a journalist to find the son who was taken from her.
Now, dear readers, I know what you're thinking: "Isn't it kind of pointless for a nobody like you to review a film that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has already deemed one of last year's top ten best movies?" To you cynics I reply: No more pointless than any of my other reviews.
Having said that, I'll cop to being in agreement with the Academy on this one. Philomena is a beautiful movie that manages to tell a sad story without ever being miserable about it. Judi Dench is just perfect in the title role, moving effortlessly from devout and stoic to heartbreaking to hilariously clueless. Steve Coogan is also phenomenal as the jaded journalist charged with bringing Philomena's story to light. Though it's hardly a fast-paced action thriller, Philomena felt about ten minutes long, and I was well and truly sad when it was over (though I was delighted to escape the four over-perfumed women who sat in front of me and talked loudly through the whole thing).
Philomena runs 98 minutes and is rated PG13 for "some strong language, thematic elements, and sexual references."
Philomena may not have been the Academy's choice as last year's Best Picture, but I think it would have been mine. Of a possible nine Weasleys, Philomena gets eight and a half.
The second half of my Saturday double-bill was the prequel/sequel/whatever 300: Rise of an Empire.
A general hopes to unite Greece's armies against invading Persians.
Confession time: I've never bothered to watch the first 300 all the way through. I mean, since it's been running here and there on TV for nearly a decade, I've probably seen the whole thing in bits, but I've never felt compelled to sit down and watch it properly. One decent new release would have bumped the sequel off my weekend agenda as well, but I guess the people who made 300 can thank Need for Speed for my seven bucks.
Rise of an Empire gives the fetching Eva Green free reign to ham it up in the female lead. If you're a girl, I can't imagine you'd walk out in less than an ass-kicking mood. (Gentlemen, beware!) Sullivan Stapleton is about as ho-hum a leading man as I've ever seen, but the material doesn't exactly require a Robert Downey, Jr., so it's not that much of a problem. I was delighted to see Hans Matheson in a featured role; I've missed him these last couple years.
As you'd expect, Rise of an Empire is a good-looking film. The battle scenes are well choreographed and gruesome, the scenery and costumes quite striking, and I instantly fell in love with the movie's thundering soundtrack. Unfortunately, none of that was enough to hold my attention for the duration, and I found plenty of time to contemplate things like Stapleton's ugly toenails and whoever thought it was a good idea to go into battle in mini-skirts and sandals. Oh, where the mind wanders when you give it a little lead...
300: Rise of an Empire clocks in at 102 minutes and is rated R for "strong sustained sequences of stylized bloody violence throughout, a sex scene, nudity, and some language." It's enjoyable enough, but nothing I'll be running back to see again and again.
Of a possible nine Weasleys, 300: Rise of an Empire gets five, because any less wouldn't properly show my appreciation for dirty, bloody, half-naked dudes.
Until next time.