Saturday, July 25, 2015
Cindy Prascik's Reviews of Southpaw & Pixels
Dearest Blog: The weekend's bad news: The cinema schedule was impossibly awkward, forcing me to stretch my new-release double-bill over two days. The good news: The crappy timing allowed me to sneak in a second screening of Spy yesterday, and extra Statham isn't exactly a hardship.
Spoiler level here will be mild, nothing you wouldn't know from the trailers.
On Friday's agenda, the Kurt Sutter-penned boxing drama Southpaw.
A former world champion boxer has to rebuild his life after his wife's murder sends him into a downward spiral.
If I had to describe Southpaw in one word, it would be "intense." I don't think Sutter is a great writer, but he is an exciting writer, and it's to his credit that I was a nervous wreck for the duration of the movie, despite being relatively certain I knew how it'd play out. (In the interest of remaining unspoilery, I won't say whether or not I was correct in that assumption.)
Southpaw's boxing scenes are extremely real, and sometimes difficult to watch. The personal drama is equally so. Performances are superb in roles large and small, and Jake Gyllenhaal is amazing in the lead. Gyllenhaal is frustrating and sympathetic, inspiring and heartbreaking, and ridiculously fit, handling all his own boxing chores in the interest of realism. (My movie popcorn and soda have never, ever made me feel more guilty!) July is hardly a hotbed of awards contenders, but hopefully folks won't forget Gyllenhaal's incredible performance when awards season rolls around.
Southpaw is marked by Sutter's characteristic violence, family angst, and anger issues. The movie is predictable and broadly drawn at times, but it moves at a good clip and has no problem holding your attention right up to the last minute. By the end I was so wound up I was talking to the screen just like I would while watching a real sporting event. (Thank goodness for almost-empty weekday theatres!)
Southpaw runs 123 minutes and is rated R for "language throughout, and some violence."
You don't have to love boxing to love Southpaw; it's a straight-up great film.
Of a possible nine Weasleys, Southpaw gets eight.
On the docket for Saturday, Adam Sandler's comedy/adventure Pixels.
Aliens mistake video of an arcade competition for a threat, and attack Earth in the form of 80s video-game characters.
I make a point of not reading reviews before I write mine, but, being online as much as I am, I couldn't miss the fact that a lot of people think Pixels really stinks. I'm here to ask those folks, in the immortal words of the Slowskys, "Why don't you like fun?"
I do not like Adam Sandler, not even a little bit. On occasion I like a movie despite Adam Sandler, but never because of Adam Sandler. I continue to give Adam Sandler chances to win me over, because I felt the same way about Ben Stiller before Tropic Thunder, and I figure everyone deserves a second, tenth, or 250th chance, right?
I won't pretend Pixels should sweep the Academy Awards or anything. Much as I enjoyed it, I even understand a little bit why critics are bashing it, though I'd bet some of them didn't bother watching it before doing so. I'm pretty sure you lose your Official Critics' Card if you say anything nice about a movie starring Adam Sandler. For the rest of us, though, Pixels has more than a few things going for it.
As with many Sandler vehicles, the nostalgia is laid on thick and heavy. If you're in the 40-60 age range, you're almost guaranteed to love the movie based solely on the musical selections and pop-culture references. The first half of Pixels is consistently laugh-out-loud funny. The second half is more action heavy, and, if the laughs taper off a bit, they're replaced with truly marvelous special effects. Due to time constraints, I saw Pixels in 2D, but you can bet I'm seeing it again in 3D as soon as humanly possible, and I have no doubt it's going to be worth it.
The look of this film is TOP-NOTCH. Pixels isn't going to change your mind about its cast; you'll enjoy the actors you already like, and continue to be annoyed by the ones you don't. To Sandler's credit, he only does one (1) of his trademark stupid voices the whole time, making him at least 95% less irritating to me than he normally is.
Pixels clocks in at a quick 105 minutes and is rated PG13 for "some language and suggestive comments."
It's possible Pixels won't connect with people of a certain age, but young kids are sure to love the action and eye-popping effects as much as we older folks do the tunes and 80s jokes.
Of a possible nine Weasleys, Pixels gets seven.
Until next time...