LIFE OF PI
Based on Yann Martel’s beautiful little book about a young man and the sea and a tiger, this film transforms into a big, imposing and often lovely 3-D experience. Ang Lee directs and while not all of it works, there is a lot to admire. Pi sets sail with his family on a freighter, accompanying a slew of zoo creatures. Terrible weather. The ship sinks. All die except for Pi, a zebra, a hyena, an orangutan and a Bengal Tiger named Richard Parker. The adventures and astonishments keep on coming. PG (emotional thematic content throughout, some scary action sequences and peril).
Steven Spielberg returns with this impressive biopic about our 16th president, complete in almost every way. Based on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book, the film focuses tightly on the final four months of Lincoln’s life and his political maneuvering in support of the 13th Amendment’s abolition of slavery. It’s a fascinating backroom movie, hushed and intimate. Daniel Day-Lewis is magnificently human as Lincoln, and the supporting cast almost as impressive. It is a fascinating and careful examination of an incredible figure and time. PG-13 (intense scene of war violence, images of carnage and brief strong language).
PLAYING FOR KEEPS
This romantic comedy follows onetime Scottish soccer star George (Gerard Butler), who finds himself down and nearly out. He’s moved to suburban Virginia to be close to his preteen son. George’s ex (Jessica Biel) is engaged to be remarried. But you never know! Maybe she’ll get back with the vaguely unsympathetic protaganist. The women in the film exist to prop up Butler’s fabulousness. Not a lot to like here. PG-13 (some sexual situations, language and a brief intense image).
In the not-too-distant future, North Korea has invaded American soil. Our only hope is a gaggle of high school kids who form a guerilla army calling itself the Wolverines, after the local football mascot. Chris Hemsworth takes on the old Patrick Swayze role, and there’s enough to like about him and the general reworkings of the 1984 cult-classic. There’s plenty of righteous kills, explosions, patriotic speeches and righteous kills. It’s not a disaster. Just drab. PG-13 (sequences of intense war violence and action, and language).