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.
In between grainy art house flicks, Ethan Hawke manages to do one decent film in about every three or four years. Of course, there are trunks full of artsy crap for every good one, but hey, the dude keeps his career trucking and that’s what matters. Director Scott Derrickson has a lot smaller ratio of good to bad. Derrickson’s past films include the dismal, “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” and the even worse, “Hellraiser: Inferno.” But it also includes the cleverly creepy, “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” from 2005, which featured Laura Linney in a riveting role. Derrickson does the same thing here with Hawke, who plays a true-crime writer so blinded by his pursuit of the story that he either can’t see or doesn’t care that he and his family are in danger. Derrickson makes it two-out-of-four on his film resume, as he captures the creepy again with Hawke’s acting chops deepening the scares and making the whole affair, worth a watch.
“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”
After nine years of lawsuits and speculation and a game of musical directors’ chairs, the waiting is over and the prequel begins. When Peter Jackson finished the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy in 2003, he handed the reins over to fantasy director extraordinaire, Guillermo del Toro, only to take the reins back after del Toro dropped out. Appropriate, because this movie fits aesthetically into Jackson’s vision of Tolkien’s Middle Earth. Shooting with new 48 frames per second cameras, up from the standard 24, the results are dazzling effects and fluid movement. Actors from the previous trilogy return and will continue to return in the two future films. Many critics said the book is not long enough for a trilogy – scenes are stretched thin and the additions corrupt the plot. But for fans of Jackson’s super-long films, this one has nice timing, the scenes feel tight and the action is, as expected, superior. It’s great to see a bearded Ian McKellen and Andy Serkis as Gollum again. This was a tall order. Jackson gets kudos for not slinking into a cave and stroking his “precious” ego after the first trilogy – worth a watch.
There’s a lot being said about bullying in schools. Adults and teens alike have taken action after kids have fallen into bouts of depression, committed suicide and begun to fight back, sometimes retaliating in extremely violent means. Anti-bullying has become a movement that’s been embraced by celebrities and a popular subject for talk shows. This film has been championed for its unflinching approach, going into high schools across America and experiencing the bullying as it happens. You may have seen the portion of this movie being used in the public service announcement where a boy gets beaten and choked on a school bus as students either take part in the abuse or turn away from it. Yes, it is harsh viewing and you may cry while you’re watching it but it’s an important film and worth a watch.
Derrick Bracey, for Weekly Surge