Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast
Life of Pi (PG)
Starring: Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Kahn, Rafe Spall
Directed by: Ang Lee
Director Ang Lee (and CG special effects) have done the impossible. They have transformed Yan Martin’s symbolic novel into a wondrous visual miracle. A clever Indian lad named Piscine Molitor Patel (Pi for short) does well in school, but troubles his parents by changing his beliefs from Hindu to Muslim to Christian and then combining all of the above. When the family decides to move to Canada with the animals from their small zoo, a shipwreck casts Pi adrift in a lifeboat, with no companions except an orangutan, a hyena, a zebra, and a full grown Bengal Tiger. No Peaceable Kingdom here. The carnivores get hungry, and the numbers onboard gradually diminish. Hope is provided when the lifeboat lands on a floating island, but the greenery is carnivorous too, and only Pi’s cleverness can keep him alive.
NOTE: There are some truly horrific events in this film, including a hyena devouring a wounded zebra—beginning with a leg. It is not suitable for young children (and some adults too).
3 and 1/2 pieces of a symbolic, magical-reality toast
Red Dawn (PG-13)
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Adriane Palicki, Jush Hutcherson, Josh Peck, Jeffrey Dean Morgan
Directed By: Dan Bradley
If you can believe that the North Koreans can parachute an army into Washington state to take over the USA, then this, Bud, is for you. Based on a semi-plausible 1984 film where the invaders were Russian, the bad guys in this remake were originally Chinese, until someone in the studio realized that the Chinese buy lots of movie tickets, and the North Koreans ban American movies. But forget any attempt at a plot. The new version is directed by an ex-stuntman, and he does know how to rig and shoot those explosive action sequences. Dialogue scenes? That’s a whole different kettle of fish.
2 pieces of another remake made for the bucks toast
Anna Karinina (R)
Starring: Keira Knightly, Jude Law, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Emily Watson
Directed By: Joe Wright
Originally appearing as a serial in the 1870’s, Leo Tolstoy’s tale af an aristocratic wife and mother brought down by her lustful infatuation with a handsome young cavelry officer, has been made into over a dozen movies with actresses like Greta Garbo, Vivien Leigh, and Jacqueline Bisset in the starring role. The “Keira Knightly version” is directed by Joe Wright (Pride and Prejudice) from a screenplay by Tom Stoppard (Shakespeare In Love) with a decidedly 21st Century take on the tale. Visually stunning, with a melodramatic flair, it is best seen on the big, big screen.
3 pieces of the Tolstoy classic beautified toast
Rise of the Guardians (PG)
Starring the voices of: Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman, Isla Fisher, Jude Law
Directed By: Peter Ramsey
My reaction when I first saw the scowling faces in the preview the studio sent to critics, is “they look mean.” The completed film is even worse—it’s mean-spirited. The Guardians are the fabled ones from childhood: the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, Jack Frost, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman, etc.. Only this film shows the “naughty, not nice” side of these characters. Santa swears (using the names of Russian composers), Bunny is angry, and Jack Frost acts like Mr. Freeze from Batman by turning random things into blocks of ice. It makes you worry that when this Jack Frost goes “nipping at your nose,” it just might fall off and shatter into a thousand frozen pieces. The Guardians gather together to form a united front against Pitch Black the night terror. You see, this really bad guy wants tell little boys and girls that the Guardians aren’t real. Unfortunately for audiences, this dreck of a movie is real.
1 piece of made to steal holiday dollars from unsuspecting parents and grandparents toast
NEW ON DVD
The Expendables 2 (R)
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jet Li, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Mickey Rourke
Directed by: Simon West
Sylvester Stallone wrote the screenplay for both films in this series, and the creaky plot points mimic the moans and groans of the over-the-hill former he-man actors who pepper the screen. Audiences who aren’t addicted to video games can only take so much testosterone and mayhem, but it seems everyone of these guys was promised a designated amount of screen time to flex his muscles, grit his teeth and get sweaty and blood-spattered fighting numerous bad guys. As a result, the movie quickly becomes tedious and repetitious. A certain age-group of jaded males may like this “Trackem, Findem, Killem” mind set, but the rest of us should keep our money in our wallets.
1 and 1/2 pieces of ridiculous revenge and carnage toast