CHICAGO – If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between a director and a producer, let “47 Ronin” explain how the hierarchy of creativity hinders the evolution of even the most straightforward-sounding pitches. “47 Ronin” is the type of samurai movie set in Japan that features native actors speaking only English, while Keanu Reeves stars as an outsider clearly plunked into the picture for stateside star power.
Lisa Gay Hamilton
CHICAGO – The main problem with “Beastly,” a modern high schooler retelling of “Beauty and the Beast,” is that the outcome is known (Beast will learn lessons, become handsome again). That leaves only the way it gets to that end for creating story. This film cannot find its way.
CHICAGO – The mid-life crisis of the modern man is mostly about ego - as the body goes downhill and the role of the alpha male is supplanted by a new version of himself, men kind of fall apart as they realize that their peak has arguably passed. Why would such an individual experience make for intriguing drama? Using the mid-life crisis as a jumping off point for drama would require some seriously well-drawn characters, the kind of guys who you root to come to terms with passing over that hill. “Men of a Certain Age” does not yet have those characters.
CHICAGO – Stars Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr. do absolutely nothing wrong in Joe Wright’s “The Soloist,” now on Blu-Ray and DVD, and there’s more than enough inherent power in the story of a musical genius lost to mental illness and the horrible way we treat the homeless in this country for a quality drama, but this cinematic solo misses too many notes to have the impact that it should have with this much talent involved.