Movies you didn’t see in the theater – Part II: “Allied”, “Deepwater Horizon” & “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children”

…and by you I mean me.

There are several movies I MEAN to see, but for whatever reason, I don’t get around to. Not that I wasn’t genuinely interested in them, but they just weren’t high enough on the priority pole. And, based on how these films did in the box office, it’s a pretty good bet you didn’t go either. Now that they are all available via OnDemand or on your pay-streaming service of choice (or however you go about getting your films), hopefully, I can help guide your search when deciding where to put your extra couple hours and $4.99.

In this installment we have the World War II epic spy story (and Oscar-nommed for Best Costuming), “Allied”, Peter Berg’s historical epic (and Oscar-nommed for Effects and Sound Editing), “Deepwater Horizon”, and Tim Burton’s interpretation of “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children”. Let’s begin…

“Allied”
Directed by Robert Zemeckis

Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard Goes to CasablancaMeant to be a WWII epic, a sweeping love story AND an old-timey, studio-system, movie-star vehicle (that’s a lot ‘o’ hyphens), it, alas, pretty much fails at all three. That said, it’s not terrible. Those two are very pretty, and even a glimpse under the hood of Allied espionage is worth some effort as far as I’m concerned.

But, boy, it’s dull, mostly because (and this will sound ridiculous considering the aftermath of the shoot), Cotillard and Pitt have positively NO sexual chemistry. Their one big love scene is so staged in a “Lawrence of Arabia” style that you wonder if perhaps the shoot took so long to setup, they were simply exhausted by the time they got around to undressing each other. Add to that a first act that’s at lease fifteen minutes too long, yet gives us no understanding of how they actually fell “in love” so fast.

It’s biggest selling point (other than the ridiculously framed beauty shots of the two stars), is the performance of Jared Harris. What will it take for someone to give this guy his own film?! Between his brilliantly tragic work in “Mad Men”, an unbelievable take on the stuttering King on “The Crown”, and accomplishing the task of being the only truly believable thing in this film, I can’t understand why studios and indies, alike, aren’t lining up to have him lead their films.

Anyway, I suppose it could work as a date-night flick, but only with that special someone  you can watch a film with on the couch, in sweats while eating pizza and ice cream.

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“Deepwater Horizon”
Directed by Peter Berg

cpimj8vusaalip1So, I’ll make this quick. This is a very well made film. It’s also practically a shot-for-shot remake of “The Towering Inferno”. In this version:

  • Kurt Russell is Steve McQueen
  • Mark Wahlberg is Paul Newman
  • John Malkovich plays the Fred Astaire role – only more evil and with a Bayou accent.
  • Gina Rodriguez is Faye Dunaway, only spunkier.

Yes, I know it’s based on actual events, but what makes this film worth watching is how much it follows that old formula. And the effects are absolutely deserving or the Oscar nod.

As for the soundtrack, Steve Jablonsky’s modern-action score is sufficient…although it reminded me quite a bit of Jennie Muskett and Paul Leonard-Morgan’s work for the British spy drama “Spooks” (“MI-5” in America). A ridiculous reference, I’m aware, but I heard what I heard.

Suspenseful enough to hold your attention, and “things-that-blow-up-real-big” enough to keep your eyes glued to the screen, it’s worth a sit…especially if you have a big television and some surround speakers (it’s nominated for sound editing…and…wow!).

Now if they could’ve only brought back Charlton Heston and George Kennedy…

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“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children”
Directed by Tim Burton

mph_trailerI don’t know. Maybe I’m a sap, but I really enjoyed this film. The script has holes galore, the lead actor is really not very good, and it tries to fit WAAAAAY too much in to a fast two hours, but I didn’t care. Burton, whose films I’ve abhorred as of late, seems to have finally remembered that it’s the heart of the piece that informs the look, not the other way ’round. The built-in nostalgia, the beautiful sets, scenery and FX, and (excepting the lead, Asa Butterfield, who seems in an entirely different film), the cast of youngsters are excellent. Of course, having Terence Stamp, Allison Janney, Samuel Jackson, Judi Dench, and the lovely Eva Green rounding out the cast doesn’t hurt its chances to impress, either.

It’s hokey, ridiculous and silly. But it’s also wondrous in moments, MUCH more romantic than “Allied” ever is, pretty funny, and is a great way to disappear from our day-to-day stressors. If you really hate fantasy movies, pass. But, for everyone else…from those who anticipate such films with joyful anticipation to those who look askance with smug, curmudgeonly growls, I would heartily recommend it as a fine streaming companion.

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Trailers:

“Allied”

“Deepwater Horizon”

“Miss Peregrine’s Home…”

 

Written on 2/15/2017

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