It’s David Ayer with another cop drama except rather than a socially relevant tale about mismatched officers of a different race or gender or religion—it’s got Orcs! “Bright” is by no means as clever as it thinks it is, as it uses fantasy tropes not to move the story forward or to lend a new twist to the cop drama, but to hammer us over the head with clumsy allegories and symbolism. Max Landis’ script is painfully stale and lacks any kind of idea as to what it’s trying to get across. It’s much too serious to take as a fantasy film, and not silly enough to take it as a meta-cop movie. Even the opening scene of Will Smith’s character beating a fairy to death on his front lawn with a broom is flat and never quite played up as a meta joke, so much as a poorly delivered device to alert us that we’re watching a “different” kind of cop movie.
Yes, primarily Hallmark have used the “Northpole” movies to sell whatever kitschy Christmas ornament they’re touting for the year, but they’ve accidentally built a neat Christmas movie series I want to see more of. Years ago, I would have really loved the adventures of Clementine the Elf, and her quest to restore the Christmas spirit in one unhappy soul. Right now, she’s still a charming Christmas heroine played by the always adorable Bailee Madison. Madison doesn’t even have to do much to look like an Elf, as she’s given pointy ears, and achieves the rest with her wide smile, and large saucer eyes.
Part one in an apparent movie series from Hallmark Entertainment, “Northpole” is a cute film about Christmas, and trying to preserve the happiness. Literally. It’s a simple and down to Earth movie that celebrates the more entertaining aspects of the holiday, while also building on a new hero in the form of elf Clementine. Bailee Madison is the definition of adorable as the rambunctious cherubic elf, desperately trying to keep the North Pole from dying what with the happiness of Christmas fading away in a sea of unfortunate cynicism. “North Pole” depends on Madison’s enthusiastic performance, and as always, she steals the movie. “North Pole” has its fair share of silliness, but it’s a fine Christmas movie with amusing quirks that I sat through with ease.
I would really only suggest “Legend” to the hardcore fantasy aficionados. It might even be a little too heavy for “Lord of the Rings” fans. As a kid I loved watching what Ridley Scott gave movie fans, but I never quite understood it until years later. Scott touches on some heavy concepts both philosophical and spiritual, and he does so with a palette of monsters and unicorns. Director Ridley Scott composes a rather brilliant and dark fantasy epic about the concepts of light and dark, and good and evil. In truth, “Legend” is a twist on the tale of Adam and Eve, except with more fantasy, magic, and monsters.
It dawned upon me watching the opening of “The Desolation of Smaug”: Did we really need the first movie? The entirety of the first film is so based on propping up storylines that “The Desolation of Smaug” wastes no time and drops in to the action. We could have just featured thirty minutes establishing the journey and cut to the opening scene. In “The Desolation of Smaug,” the writers provide a prologue where Gandalf meets Thorin in a pub and asks him to lead the journey. They proclaim they need a “burglar,” and cut to Bilbo Baggins in action. So, what was the point of the first movie? The opening shot of Bilbo hiding in the rocks with his allies speaks sounds more than the entire director’s cut of “An Unexpected Journey” could.
For a movie with the subtitle “An Unexpected Journey,” Bilbo Baggins really does get a huge notice ahead of time. In fact he has enough notice to run away from his home and let the dwarves wait at his door step. Director Peter Jackson really has his work cut out for him, as he has to adapt “The Hobbit” while also trying to remind the audience that this is connected in a large way to “Lord of the Rings.” So, he shoe horns in a cameo from Frodo Baggins, as played by Elijah Wood, and we then enter in to the rather long story afoot.
Thankfully, the follow up to 2011’s adaptation of Marvel’s “Thor” really seems to be intent on fixing the original film’s mistakes. While I really enjoyed the first installment, “Thor: The Dark World” is thankfully more fantasy based, and less a fish out of water action film, this time around. The writers have to work hard to bridge this tale in to the new “Avengers” movie, so we’re left experiencing the fall out from “The Avengers.” After Thor left to fight Loki, Thor has to face Jane who resents him never coming to ensure he was safe, and Loki is viciously angry toward Thor for imprisoning him.
What ultimately turns “Elf” from an okay movie to a good movie, is Will Ferrell. Will Ferrell gives such a good performance here and is both laugh out loud funny and endearing presenting such a conviction with his role and commits to this character giving a wide eyed exuberance throughout the entirety of the film, even when facing adversity and hardship. What “Elf” essentially has going for it in the long run is its sense of innocence approaching family and Buddy approaching the real world. The film, while a story about an man who thinks he’s an elf discovering the real world, it’s also about losing ones innocence and grasp on their inner-child.