What’s Seattle Saying? – March 8-15, 2013

WhatsSeattleSayingLogoEach week, Should I See It will be looking to its left and to its right, collating the thoughts of many of the film reviewers and writers located in and around the Seattle community.

This is a combination of two weeks, due to unforeseen delays…

OPENING IN SEATTLE THIS WEEKEND (March 8-15, 2013):

    • Dead Man Down (March 8)
    • Oz The Great And Powerful (March 8)
    • The Call (March 15)
    • The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (March 15)

See what the Seattle critics say about these films…after the cut!

DeadManDownDEAD MAN DOWN
Starring: Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace, Terrence Howard
Rating: R (for violence, language throughout and a scene of sexuality.)
Genre: Action
Running Time: 118 Minutes
Director: Niels Arden Oplev

WHAT IS IT ABOUT?
Niels Arden Oplev, the acclaimed director of the original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, makes his American theatrical debut with the new action thriller, DEAD MAN DOWN. Colin Farrell and Noomi Rapace star as two strangers who are irresistibly drawn to one another by their mutual desire for revenge. The film co-stars Academy Award (R) nominee Terrence Howard and Dominic Cooper, from a screenplay by J.H.Wyman (Fringe). – FilmDistrict

 

WHAT DO WE THINK ABOUT Dead Man Down?

Check - YesSara Michelle Fetters, MovieFreak.com
“…a gritty, character-driven modern noir were up is down and nothing is ever quite what it seems.

Tim Hall, The People’s Critic@SeattlePI.com
X - No
Dead Man Down’s story about revenge is missed in the film’s poor execution. The duo of Noomi Rapace and Collin Farrell are great on their own, but lack any onscreen chemistry.”

Check - YesBrad Brevet, Rope Of Silicon
“…rise(s) above what could have easily become a direct-to-video feature and turns it into something I don’t mind recommending you give a chance.”

Only three of our critics have written about Dead Man Down but two of the three liked the film, or found it passable entertainment. This differs from the national consensus where 38% of critics via Rotten Tomatoes gave them film a thumbs up. Seattle critics were given next to no notice on the screening date and that greatly reduced the volume of words shared on the film locally.

OzGAPOZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL
Starring: James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz
Rating: PG (for intense scenes of fantasy action violence, some frightening images and brief language.)
Genre: Fantasy
Running Time: 130 Minutes
Director: Sam Raimi

WHAT IS IT ABOUT?
Disney’s fantastical adventure “Oz The Great and Powerful,” directed by Sam Raimi, imagines the origins of L. Frank Baum’s beloved wizard character. When Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a small-time circus magician with dubious ethics, is hurled away from dusty Kansas to the vibrant Land of Oz, he thinks he’s hit the jackpot-fame and fortune are his for the taking-that is until he meets three witches, Theodora (Mila Kunis), Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and Glinda (Michelle Williams), who are not convinced he is the great wizard everyone’s been expecting. Reluctantly drawn into the epic problems facing the Land of Oz and its inhabitants, Oscar must find out who is good and who is evil before it is too late. Putting his magical arts to use through illusion, ingenuity-and even a bit of wizardry-Oscar transforms himself not only into the great wizard but into a better man as well. When small-time magician Oscar Diggs (James Franco) pulls one flimflam too many, he finds himself hurled into the fantastical Land of Oz where he must somehow transform himself into the great wizard-and just maybe into a better man as well. – Walt Disney

WHAT DO WE THINK ABOUT Oz the Great and Powerful?

Check - YesAdam Gehrke, Adamgehrke.com
“Acting from the ensemble feels right, peppered humor comes across in just the right doses, and Danny Elfman’s score is the perfect touch without going overboard.”

X - NoBrian The Movie Guy, KOMO Radio.Star 101.5 FM/Brianthemovieguy.com
“…when it comes to watching a movie with your family that’s barely above average like this…there is indeed no place like home.”

Check - YesBrian Zitzelman, Examiner.com
“The whole remains charming. There are too many things that one can be swept away by to leave one underwhelmed.”

X - NoErik Samdahl, FilmJabber
“…I cannot comprehend how $325 million, let alone $200 or even $100 million, was spent on a movie with so little magic, wit and enthusiasm for its material.”

Check - YesAllen Almachar, The MacGuffin
“Oz’s journey to become The Man Behind The Curtain is a fun and surprisingly touching experience.”

Check - YesSara Michelle Fetters, MovieFreak.com
While I did like quite a bit of Oz the Great and Powerful, and while I can give it something of a begrudging recommendation, I do feel the movie itself never lives up to its potential…

X - NoTim Hall, The People’s Critic@SeattlePI.com
“The film is rich with Oz like décor but is missing the important Oz characteristics that made Oz a household name.”

X - NoBrad Brevet, Rope Of Silicon
“No level of CG wizardry and 3-D environments can elevate a tedious story above mediocre and in this case even that’s a bar set too high.”

Check - YesMoira Macdonald, The Seattle Times
“…an agreeable family film that pleasantly reminds us of something greater — of a land that we heard of, once in a lullaby..”

X - NoIan Dinsmore, Seattleite
“(Sam) Raimi, given the tools, could have crafted an Oz that felt lived in or at least organic.  Here everything looks wrapped in plastic.

X - NoMichael Ward, Should I See It
“…overly ambitious and at odds with itself.”

Overall, Oz the Great and Powerful falls just short of a majority approval from our panel. While it has its fans, the detractors reference many of the same points that those who endorse the film give a begrudging pass to. Nationally, the split was just above the threshold for a Fresh designation. 61% of national film critics polled by Rotten Tomatoes liked Oz, while 5 out of 11 (45%) liked it locally. What we now know is that Disney has literally reversed its fortunes after suffering through two megabudget failures in subsequent years – Mars Needs Moms and John Carter. Audiences have made Oz the Great and Powerful the biggest grossing film of the year through March 2013.

CallPosterTHE CALL
Starring: Halle Berry, Abigail Breslin
Rating: R (for for violence, disturbing content and some language.)
Genre: Suspense/Thriller
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Director: Brad Anderson

WHAT IS IT ABOUT?
When veteran 911 operator, Jordan (Halle Berry), takes a life-altering call from a teenage girl (Abigail Breslin) who has just been abducted, she realizes that she must confront a killer from her past in order to save the girl’s life. – Sony Pictures.

 

 

WHAT DO WE THINK ABOUT The Call?

X - NoAdam Gehrke, AdamGehrke.com
“…the massive holes and plot points for shock factor seem destined to drag this one to the deep.

X - NoBrian Zitzelman, Examiner.com
“The premise for The Call is promising. The execution is lazy, uninteresting and on more than a few occasions laughable.”

Check - YesNick Ahlers, The MacGuffin
“Despite a few jaw-dropping missteps in the film’s final moments, The Call is a concise and fun little thriller.”

X - NoSara Michelle Fetters, MovieFreak.com
Anderson is a good director, and he does get solid performances from both Berry and Breslin, but the movie is a mess, plain and simple…”

Check - YesTim Hall, The People’s Critic@SeattlePI.com
“When it comes to film, WWE Studios haven’t been that successful…What I’m about to say sounds crazy……. The Call may be the best film they’ve put out. Seriously.”

X - NoBrad Brevet, Rope Of Silicon
“…in the end it devolves into yet another third-rate thriller destined for the bargain bin and forgotten in a matter of days.”

X - NoMichael Ward, Should I See It (review forthcoming)
“For what little it does right, the film becomes simply too illogical and the narrative so laughably absurd that The Call is one best left unanswered.”

The box office numbers surprised many pundits, but Halle Berry’s first hit in years, The Callis the 2013 equivalent to the types of films that featured former A-list stars slumming in projects which would be arrive, sight unseen, straight-to-video in the 1990s. Audiences were intrigued by the film, which turned a profit mid-weekend. Nationally the critics were less enamored with The Call, approving it at just 39%. Only two of our seven critics liked it enough to recommend it.

IncredibleBurtWonderstoneTHE INCREDIBLE BURT WONDERSTONE
Starring: Steve Carell, Jim Carrey, Steve Buscemi
Rating: PG-13 (for for sexual content, dangerous stunts, a drug-related incident and language.)
Genre: Comedy
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Director: Don Scardino

WHAT IS IT ABOUT?
Superstar magicians Burt Wonderstone (Steve Carell) and Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi) have ruled the Las Vegas strip for years, raking in millions with illusions as big as Burt’s growing ego. But lately the duo’s greatest deception is their public friendship, while secretly they’ve grown to loathe each other. Facing cutthroat competition from guerilla street magician Steve Gray (Jim Carrey), whose cult following surges with each outrageous stunt, even their show looks stale. But there’s still a chance Burt and Anton can save the act-both onstage and off-if Burt can get back in touch with what made him love magic in the first place. – Warner Bros.

WHAT DO WE THINK ABOUT The Incredible Burt Wonderstone?

Check - YesAdam Gehrke, AdamGehrke.com
“…it’s not rip roaring nonstop hilarity; however, the rolling laughter is certainly enough to keep things fresh throughout.”

Check - YesBrian the Movie Guy, KOMO Radio/Star 101.5 FM/BrianTheMovieGuy.com
“…competently directed, amiably written and jam-packed with talented performances.”

Robert Horton, Everett Herald
Check - Yes“…There are some fun running jokes, director Don Scardino finds room for some really bizarre goofiness and Carrey supplies a jolt of octane in his regular appearances.”

Check - YesBrian Zitzelman, Examiner.com
Incredible is a pretty decent comedy; far from a must-see but miles ahead of recent duds like Identity Thief.

Check - YesErik Samdahl, FilmJabber
“…lighthearted and silly comedy that works more often than not.

Edward Davidson, The MacGuffin
X - No“…you’ll find yourself in six months watching this streaming online somewhere and saying ‘That was okay, I guess.‘”

Check - YesSara Michelle Fetters, MovieFreak.com
I’ve got something of a soft spot in my heart for The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, and while the magic it conjures might be fleeting it’s still magic all the same…”

Check - YesTim Hall, The People’s Critic@SeattlePI.com
“The beauty of The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is that it never strays way from what it is – it’s the comical parts of Vegas and magic mixed with childish wonderment.”

X - NoBrad Brevet, Rope Of Silicon
“You could do a lot worse than Burt Wonderstone or you could skip it and wait for DVD, either way I think you get the point.”

Check - YesMoira Macdonald, The Seattle Times
“In the meantime, it’s fun while it lasts — and sometimes, we need movies like that.

And here is where Seattle breaks from the consensus. With ten panel members having watching The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, the film achieves 80% approval from our Seattle critics. Simple, fun, and enjoying seems to be the common theme and for the two who rest on the fence, but whose letter grades lean towards a dislike, I think it is fair to say that they certainly did not hate Wonderstone. The film, which vastly underperformed at the box office, was savaged by national film critics, conjuring up just 38% of positive reviews via Rotten Tomatoes. Lots of folks are scratching their heads on this one, including our panel, who felt that they were seeing a good, but not great, comedy.

FINAL CONSENSUS
Other films recently screened for press and opening in more than one location locally include Lore, Emperor, and horror anthology The ABCs of Death. You can visit the respective websites below to see which of our critics weighed in on those entries. Over the last two weeks, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone was the consensus pick over Oz the Great and Powerful and The Call. Only three reviewers watched Dead Man Down but two of those three liked it as well.

EXPECTED OPENINGS IN SEATTLE NEXT WEEK:

  • Admission
  • The Croods
  • Olympus Has Fallen
  • Spring Breakers

What’s Seattle Saying surveyed critics include:

Adam Gehrke, AdamGehrke.com
Brian The Movie Guy, KOMO Radio/Star 101.5 FM/Brianthemovieguy.com
Robert Horton, Everett Herald
Brian Zitzelman, Examiner.com
Erik Samdahl, FilmJabber
Laremy Legel, Film.com/Rope Of Silicon
Staff Reviewers from The MacGuffin
Sara Michelle Fetters, MovieFreak.com
Tim Hall, The People’s Critic@SeattlePI.com
Brad Brevet, Rope Of Silicon
Staff Reviewers from The Seattle Times
Ian Dinsmore, Seattleite
Michael Ward, Should I See It

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