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Saturday, October 24, 2015

Cindy Prascik's Review of The Last Witch Hunter & Steve Jobs

Dearest Blog: With awards season in full swing, the weekend once again features too many desirable cinema options and too little time. My schedule allowed for just two of the four new releases playing at my theatre, so I chose the two everybody knew I would.
Spoiler level here will be mild, nothing you wouldn't know from the trailers.
First on the docket: The Last Witch Hunter.
Vin Diesel protects humanity from big bad witches. No, seriously, that's it.
The Last Witch Hunter combines Hobbity-looking historical battles with an uneasy present-day truce between witches and humans. There'd be no movie if said truce didn't quite hold, so it won't be much of a spoiler to reveal that witches are, in fact, hunted here. Diesel goes from looking like a caveman to looking like an undertaker (or The Undertaker), and I am unsurprisingly giddy about all of it. 
The Last Witch Hunter is too dark at times to really see much of anything, but the effects are pretty solid and overall it's got a cool gothic look that's well suited to the subject matter. Action sequences are well executed and keep the picture moving, amid a backstory that's a bit of a shambles and more than the movie needs. 
There's a good deal of humor, both intentional and as a result of some spectacular overacting. Female lead Rose Leslie has come a long way since she just wanted to learn to type on Downton Abbey, and I lost count of how many times I muttered, "You know nothing, Jon Snow," under my breath when she was onscreen. 
She's not bad by any means, there's just nothing about the role or the performance to make anyone forget what she's done before. Michael Caine and Elijah Wood are both underused, but certainly up to what little is required of them. The movie is nicely-paced and smart enough not to wear out its welcome. 
Not an awards hopeful by any stretch of the imagination, The Last Witch Hunter earns its October release with Halloween-appropriate subject matter, but, if you're looking for real scares, you'll need to look elsewhere.
The Last Witch Hunter runs 106 minutes and is rated PG13 for "sequences of fantasy violence and frightening images."
It's undeniably hokey, but The Last Witch Hunter is also great fun. 
Of a possible nine Weasleys, The Last Witch Hunter gets six. 
(Yes, that's one more than Mississippi Grind. So sue me.)
Next on my agenda: one of my most anticipated 2015 titles, Steve Jobs.
Long before people started queuing up for days to get the newest iPhone, Steve Jobs was a meanie who actually failed at stuff.
When a movie like Steve Jobs is released, the loudest initial reaction is almost always from those complaining about exaggerations and inaccuracies in the portrayal. No doubt this film contains a fair few of both, but, even if it were two hours of total fiction, Steve Jobs is a great, GREAT movie.
Starting with the obvious: Aaron Sorkin has once again penned a masterful script, full of the smart, rapid-fire dialogue that is his trademark. Michael Fassbender is remarkable, completely disappearing into his role as the future electronics juggernaut. The handsome Fassbender even bears an uncanny resemblance to Jobs at times, especially in his later years. 
Kate Winslet is no less stunning as Jobs' long-suffering right hand, Joanna Hoffman, seemingly the only person able to derail the locomotive of Jobs' ambition when sanity requires it. Jeff Daniels, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Seth Rogen round out the award-worthy supporting cast.
Steve Jobs can be a difficult film to watch, as Jobs browbeats staff and friends, and alienates the few people who actually care for him. Winslet is especially heartbreaking as she lobbies Jobs to do right by his daughter. For an entirely action-less picture, Steve Jobs keeps an extraordinary pace and never once feels dull or too long.
Like the Social Network before it, Steve Jobs paints its subject as quite the jerk, but, if lack of social graces is the cost of foresight like Jobs' (or Zuckerberg's), for my money, it's worth it every time. Daryl Dixon may survive alright without the products of such genius, but I daresay the rest of us wouldn't even be interested in trying.
Steve Jobs clocks in at 122 minutes and is rated R for language.
I cried at the end of Steve Jobs, not because it was happy and not because it was sad, but because it was just that great. 
Of a possible nine Weasleys, Steve Jobs gets eight and a half.
Until next time...

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