Saturday, March 22 2014, 09:36 PM MDT
Box Office: Recommended Films For The Week Of March 21 – March 26, 2014
Recommended films showing in Salt Lake City for the week March 21 – March 26, 2014
1. The Lego Movie (PG)
2. The Grand Budapest Hotel (R)
3. Muppets Most Wanted (PG)
4. Divergent (PG-13)
5. Frozen (PG)
1. Muppets Most Wanted (PG)
2. The Lego Movie (PG)
3. The Wind Rises (PG-13)
4. Mr. Peabody & Sherman (PG)
5. Frozen (PG)
1. The Grand Budapest Hotel (R)
2. 12 Years a Slave (R)
3. Dallas Buyers Club (R)
4. Tim’s Vermeer (PG-13)
5. Child’s Pose (NR)
New In Theaters This Week:
3 out of 5 Stars
Director: Neil Burger
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Recommended To: Fans of the novel, those looking for something similar to The Hunger Games with just a touch of Twilight’s romance thrown in.
Synopsis: For the betterment of society humanity has divided itself into five distinct groups based on singular virtues. Tris (Shailene Woodley), unsure of her place in the world, leaves her family to join a different faction. There she learns that her inability to conform and dedicate herself to one virtue makes her Divergent and a threat to the balance of society.
Review: Numerous book franchises have tried to cash in on the success of Twilight and The Hunger Games, but the majority were been met with apathy rather than fanaticism. Divergent stands a chance at success in that it is cut from a similar cloth to The Hunger Games and presents a dystopian future where society has been divided “for their best interest.” It swaps out the economics of Suzanne Collins’ future for a world where an individual is reduced to having one virtue (brave, intelligent, honest, selfless or peaceful). It is an incredibly simplistic idea and more of an intellectual exercise than a fully realized vision of the future and as a result that requires a suspension of disbelief to really buy into the narrative. If you’re able to do that there’s enjoyment to find in Divergent as it offers the expected mix of teenage uncertainty, a desire for acceptance and heightened stakes as one person’s decisions inevitably will impact society as a whole. The cast features some familiar faces like Kate Winslet and Ashley Judd, young stars in Shailene Woodley, Miles Teller and Jai Courtney and newcomers like Theo James and Ansel Elgort and while I doubt any will ultimately consider Divergent their finest hour the ensemble holds up better than the hodgepodge casts of Twilight, Percy Jackson or The Mortal Instruments. Director Neil Burger does a fairly nice job of recreating the world of the novel (although “the pit” certainly underwhelms when compared to how it was described in the book). Woodley and James have a nice amount of chemistry and that manages to make the romantic subplot less sugary than it was in the novel. Screenwriters Evan Daugherty and Vanessa Taylor have made plenty of changes to the story. Some of the alterations improve the story while others are baffling. Do we really need to see a softer side of Molly or a less self-concerned Christina? I think not.
I’m not fully invested in Divergent. It is a good starting point that me interested in the characters and the world they inhabit. The real question is if the sequel can really grab me in the way that The Hunger Games: Catching Fire did. If 2015’s Insurgent is a step backwards you won’t find me clamoring for Allegiant in 2016.
The Grand Budapest Hotel
4 out of 5 Stars
Director: Wes Anderson
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu Amalric
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Recommended To: Wes Anderson fans and those looking to be taken to a candy-colored world.
Synopsis: The story of Gustave H (Ralph Fiennes), the concierge at the famous Grand Budapest Hotel, and Zero Moustafa (Tony Revolori), the hotel’s new lobby boy.
Review: Just when you thought that Wes Anderson had made his most Wes Anderson film in 2012’s Moonrise Kingdom he returns with a film that goes even further into his fantasy world. It’s a pleasant place that resembles reality, but is painted in more innocent pastels. It features a large cast, many of which have become Anderson regulars, and as such many of the roles are nothing more than glorified cameos. It does feel like a waste to use the likes of Tilda Swinton and Bill Murray in such small roles because even in these brief glimpses the characters feel as interestingly complex as those that dominate this particular version of the story. And yet, to give the characters their fair due would stretch the film far beyond its 100-minute running time. Sometimes less is so much more.
This tale, which is a story within a story within a story sort of affair, is a whimsical murder mystery caper involving an overly attentive concierge, a dead wealthy patron, a newly revised will, a priceless painting and a very upset family. The film carries a similar tone to all of Anderson’s movies. Even when The Grand Budapest Hotel strays into peril, and this is Anderson’s most dangerous movie, it feels cartoon safe. That will inevitable be considered a weakness by some. In my estimation it is simply a product of the world that Anderson has created. We don’t dismiss Looney Tunes because its violence is half felt. We embrace it as part of the cartoon’s universe. That said, whereas Charlie Chaplin was able to say a whole lot more with The Great Dictator while keeping a similar tone, Anderson seems content to simply entertain without really offering a social commentary that applies to the real world. To that end, The Grand Budapest Hotel is a delicious pastry, but not a scrumptious feast.
Muppets Most Wanted
3.5 out of 5 Stars
Director: James Bobin
Starring: Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell, Tina Fey
Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Musical, Crime
Recommended To: Kids, those that enjoyed 2011’s revival and somewhat forgiving longtime fans.
Synopsis: Having reaffirmed their cultural importance the Muppets set out on a European tour with newly acquired tour manager Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais). Unbeknownst to the cast Kermit the Frog has been replaced by an evil look-alike who plans on using the group as a cover while he plots to steal the Crown Jewels.
Review: I liked 2011’s The Muppets, but not nearly as much as I wanted to. There seemed to be too much of an emphasis on the human characters rather than the Muppets themselves. Muppets Most Wanted is more of the same with a plot that is somewhat reminiscent of The Great Muppet Caper. Bret McKenzie returns as principle songwriter and while he was able to pen some incredibly catchy tunes the first time around his songs here aren’t nearly as memorable. Of course not all is doom and gloom as the majority of the film works quite well and certainly doesn’t send the franchise back into limbo. The film is very self-aware and liberally pokes fun at itself as well as acknowledging some of the criticism that was leveled toward The Muppets. It’s still not as good as I wanted it to be, but I’m hardly disappointed or disgusted. I’d like to think the film does well enough to green light yet another film.
-Ryan Michael Painter
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