Recliner Reviews for Nov. 29, 2012

November 27, 2012 

Sometimes it’s a dilemma: what DVD should you rent or what movie should you stream or order-on-demand? Do you want a date flick, an action caper, or a goofy comedy? Weekly Surge is here to help with our reviews of recent at-home movie releases, which we’ve watched from the comfort of that favorite recliner.

“Brave”

A film six years in the making with two new software programs written to deal with the digital effects, the introduction of a new sound system, and a change in the director while filming – all to bring you the first Pixar movie to have a female protagonist. It was rumored that this would be the first openly gay princess but spoiler alert…she may be or she may not be. That’s the point of the film – freewill and the choice to be whatever you choose to be. Pixar is dragging Disney Animation into the present, a place where princesses save themselves and it’s OK to be alone. The effects are groundbreaking. The characters feel human for a cartoon. It was a real courageous move to attempt the period-piece princess film. It’s a tried-and-true tradition for Disney, but Pixar fearlessly flips it over, valiantly carrying along some of Disney’s history while boldly adding the immediacy of the now. “Brave” is old-school heroic while being plucky and new – worth a watch.

“Dark Shadows”

We get it, Tim Burton is a genius. He’s rebuilt the gothic and Victorian periods in Technicolor. He’s the only director who can restructure a genre to suit him and take some of our favorite childhood films and re-envision them without the audience grabbing torches and setting his Einstein-esque coiffure alight. In this homage to the gothic TV soap opera of the same name, Burton brings his gang back, Johnny Depp, Christopher Lee, Helena Bonham Carter and even Michelle Pfeiffer, who hasn’t been in a Burton film since 1992’s “Batman Returns.” Entering the fold is teenage-wonder-actress Chloe Grace Moretz, portraying a desensitized goth-girl. Burton plays to his period-piece strength, setting the story in 1972, but it’s all for naught – the film is just not that good. It’s visually outstanding, but the story is weak – no character development, too many characters and everything feels rushed. “Dark Shadows” should’ve never seen the light of day until it was fully developed – pass.

“Take This Waltz”

Seth Rogen is branching into drama. He tiptoed around heavy material with “50/50.” Nothing can prepare you for the gravitational pull of Michelle Williams’ sad faces. Her portrayal of Marilyn Monroe in “My Week with Marilyn” was a defining performance but there was more gloomy looks from her than there was dialogue. Here, these two play a seemingly happily married couple. But she fears human connection, she’s bored and somehow her neighbor (Luke Kirby) breaks through to her and she dreams of a new life. What happens if she gets it? More sad looks, of course. Everyone’s favorite foul-mouth hottie, Sarah Silverman, strengthens her acting chops. Actor/writer/director Sarah Polley reaffirms her how-to in discomfort, following up her ode to Alzheimer’s, “Away from Her.” This is a good film with intricate writing and the actors show subtle humanity. But you have to be in the mood to dance with this art house flick – worth a watch.

Derrick Bracey, for Weekly Surge

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