Two major December releases gave us first looks today, with both promising very different outings at the movies. The first is the fourth installment in a major action franchise, the second a prestige book/play adaptation from one of Hollywood's biggest names.
While there's nothing here to make me rush to the theater on opening day, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't at least somewhat intrigued by this film. Whether it's new additions like Jeremy Renner and Paula Patton, or the fact that this is the live-action debut of Brad Bird (The Incredibles), it looks like a solid, big thrills action movie. The split-second clips of what looked like a green-brown dust cloud were a little too CGI'd, but overall, the feeling is that this is a welcome return to that time when action movies relied more on stunts than green screens.
Having just scooped up the Tony for Best Play, War Horse is clearly a hot item at the moment, so who better to take it to the screen than Steven Spielberg. Now, while the movie may not be able to replicate the play's (apparently) fantastic staging, Spielberg and co. seem to have compensated by making the whole thing absolutely gorgeous. That shot of the soldiers mounting their horses in the wheat field? The girl's reflection in the horse's eye? Magnificent. If any movie were to stand a chance at giving The Tree of Life a run for best cinematography, this is it. However, one question remains: what about the story? From what I've been able to gather, the source material isn't the most inspired text, and becomes excessively sentimental and cliched at times. Given Spielberg's somewhat sentimental tendencies, the coupling could prove problematic. At the same time, one must consider that sometimes iffy books/plays end up translating better to the big screen than their acclaimed counterparts.