Friday, February 8, 2013

2012 Catch Up (ParaNorman / Lawless)

ParaNorman (2012)

Directors: Chris Butler, Sam Fell
Writer: Chris Butler
Stars: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Anna Kendrick, Christopher Mintz-Plasse

For the most part an "above average" animated movie with a decent story and, while lacking some originality, well-executed characters. Goodman is particularly fun as Norman's seemingly crazy uncle who must pass off his responsibility of guarding the town against an ancient witch's curse to his nephew. The movie really shines in its final act after a major reveal involving the villain's identity. The visuals in the climactic sequence are phenomenal and the confrontation is equally impressive in its thematic and emotional power. I was enjoying the ride for most of the movie, but that finale totally won me over.

First "Coraline" and now this? Laika Studio is building a nice little resume here.

Score: 7 / 10

Lawless (2012)

Director: John Hillcoat
Writers: Nick Cave (screenplay), Matt Bondurant (novel)
Stars: Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf, Guy Pearce

Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Jessica Chastain, Guy Pearce... Shia LaBeouf. Now, Shia's mere presence doesn't make the film terrible by default, but he is very average as an actor and he ends up sticking out like a sore thumb in an otherwise stellar cast. LeBeouf getting ten times the screen time of Oldman is something that should not happen in any movie, ever. I'd say that the "true story" of 1930's moonshiners is ripe for an awesome adaptation - so, while what is presented here is shot beautifully and unflinchingly in even the most brutal scenarios, I can't help but wonder how they managed to make such interesting material come across as fairly boring. Nick Cave makes some weird and wonderful music, but his skill in writing for the screen seems to be sorely lacking. A decent film, but I can't help but be disappointed at the failure to live up to its full potential.

Score: 5 / 10

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