News and notes from Fredericksburg's entertainment scene
Movie Reviews: ‘Cloud Atlas,’ ‘The Perks Of Being A Wallflower,’ ‘Chasing Mavericks,’ ‘Silent Hill: Revelation’ and ‘Fun Size’
BY ROB HEDELT
THE FREE LANCE-STAR
“CLOUD ATLAS” (R)
2.5 OUT OF 4 STARS
TOM HANKS, HALLE BERRY, JIM BROADBENT, JIM STURGESS, HUGH GRANT
While it’s a big mess—too many characters in too many stories supposedly linked by trippy reincarnation babble—it’s a cool collection.
With a great cast, rich settings, impressive effects and some tales that are fascinating to follow, this film works best if you don’t over-think it. Just sit back and watch it all wash by.
If you try to make it make sense, or even to figure out the connections among more than a dozen stories and settings, you’ll go bonkers.
It’s especially bothersome at the start, when you figure out that you’re not going to see Tom Hanks, Halle Berry and others in just one role, but a half-dozen roles, each with a different tale to tell in a different time surrounded by different characters.
The viewer gets little five-minute snippets of one story before being thrown into another, and another, and another.
So forget all the reincarnation babble and just enjoy the snippets as mini-movies, each eventually being completed but never really linked to others in any meaningful way.
Especially good are Hanks, Jim Broadbent and Berry, the latter sometimes overlooked as an actress at the top of her game. A bit of a shock: Hank’s portrayal of a very profane, street-fighting sort of writer.
For some reason, the stories in the past resonate better than the ones in the future, especially drab is one that’s a mix of “Soylent Green” and “The Matrix.”
Although the movie takes nearly three hours to tell its tales, it moves so well that it doesn’t feel overdone.
Without that length, they never could have included all these different narratives in what, for better and worse, is one whale of a tale.
Rated R for violence, language, sexuality/nudity, drug use. 172 min. [PV]
“THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER” (PG-13)
3 OUT OF 4 STARS
LOGAN LERMAN, EMMA WATSON, EZRA MILLER, MAE WHITMAN, PAUL RUDD
Emma Watson is sweetly compelling in this coming-of-age tale about a high school freshmen named Charlie who struggles to deal with his outsider status and a tragedy not fully revealed until the film’s end.
But Charlie isn’t on his own. Several high school seniors take him under their wing, including one beautiful but troubled young girl named Sam (Watson).
Few will be surprised when he falls for her, largely because she’s such a compelling character.
Equally interesting are the others in the pack of “misfit friends,” as well as the high school world they fit into.
Logan Lerman is solid as the clueless but decently sweet Charlie, who serves as a semi-detached observer of the world around him.
His character’s approach to life is reminiscent of the way the protagonist in “Almost Famous” quietly watched that world of rock music.
Even without the winning Watson, this could be worth seeing, but her talents certainly help, and so do strong supporting turns from big-name actors including Paul Rudd and Kate Walsh.
Rated PG-13 for mature material, drug and alcohol use, sexual content, a fight, all involving teens. 101 min. [PV]
“CHASING MAVERICKS” (PG)
2.5 OUT OF 4 STARS
JONNY WESTON, GERARD BUTLER, ELISABETH SHUE
The shore-bound parts of this film about an extreme surfing challenge feel a bit flat compared to the action out in the breakers.
But there’s something compelling about this real-word story of a youngster who wants to tackle a “maverick,” a rare monster-sized swell that occasionally shows up off the California coast.
That challenge is a heartfelt one, especially for the young Jay (a one-note but competent and California-blond Johnny Weston) who doesn’t have much else going on in his life.
Jay’s father is gone, his mother’s a drunk and he doesn’t have that many friends. At least not until he finds his passion: surfing, something he does with talent and zeal.
With no father to provide guidance, the young surfer turns to a neighbor named Frosty, who has his own father demons but lives to surf and has conquered the mavericks.
The training Frosty puts his young neighbor through quickly becomes about more than just surfing, with Frosty becoming a parent of sorts.
It all unfolds exactly as you expect. But that’s not really a problem because the surf action and the very real danger provide all the edge the film needs.
The honest nature of it all becomes clear at the end, especially when a postscript about Jay’s life delivers a down note to what’s otherwise a real-world victory.
Rated PG for thematic elements, some perilous action. 116 min. [MC, RA, RF]
“SILENT HILL: REVELATION” (R)
1 OUT OF 4 STARS
SEAN BEAN, RADHA MITCHELL, CARRIE-ANNE MOSS
It would be too much of a compliment to say that this hackneyed and hack-’em-up horror flick is like a video game come to life on the big screen.
It’s more like the scenes at a haunted house, with nothing but a silly story about a young girl providing the excuse to drag an audience past the various “Boo!” scares and nightmarish characters.
Sean Bean and the rest of the cast are wasted in what becomes a big excuse to take a girl to a haunted town that’s just one garish bunch of scares after another.
From an almost laughable spider made with odd limbs and human heads to a sword-slashing guardian you could jokingly call “triangle head,” watching this film is the real not-too-silent hell.
Rated R for violence and disturbing images, language, brief nudity. 95 min. [MC, PV, RA]
“FUN SIZE” (PG-13)
2 OUT OF 4 STARS
VICTORIA JUSTICE, CHELSEA HANDLER, ANA GASTEYER
This tale of a young girl who loses her brother on Halloween is perfect for young teens: a thrill here and there, none too tawdry.
But the characters and story feel so small that, ultimately, it’s entertainment better suited for Nickelodeon than big screens.
Rated PG-13 for partying, language and crude and suggestive material. 90 min. [MC, RA]