|Washington gives one of his best performances.|
Directed by Robert Zemeckis
Produced by Walter F. Parkes, Laurie MacDonald, Steve Starkey, Robert Zemeckis, and Jack Rapke
Written by John Gatins
Starring Denzel Washington, Don Cheadle, Kelly Reilly, John Goodman, Bruce Greenwood, and Melissa Leo
An alcoholic pilot (Washington) successfully lands a broken plane, saving all but six lives. However, he was intoxicated on the flight, and he must deal with his alcoholism amidst a criminal investigation.
Washington delivers a fine performance as Whip Whitaker, depicting his turmoil, self-denial, and hopelessness combined with his charm, courage, and sense of self-reliance. The film also has great work from Reilly, Goodman, Greenwood, and Cheadle, all of which fit their characters like a glove. Special mention of James Badge Dale, whose brief performance as a cancer patient is phenomenal, must be given as well. He's only in one scene, but he'll likely be on my ballot for Best Supporting Actor. Need I say more? There are strong performances all around in this character piece, and the film takes an interesting direction that you might not see coming. If you've watched the trailer (or read my synopsis), there is much more going on in the film than it indicates, but it's best to discover it for yourself. Go see it.
Oscar Potential: Best Actor, Best Original Screenplay, Best Sound Editing, Best Visual Effects
Wreck-It Ralph (2012)
|Ralph and Vanellope - unlikely friends.|
Directed by Rich Moore
Produced by Clark Spencer
Written by Phil Johnston and Jennifer Lee
Starring John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, and Jane Lynch
Ralph (Reilly) is a video game bad guy, whose job is to wreck things, destroying them for Fix-It Felix (MacBrayer) to repair. When Ralph ends up in a racing candy-themed game with a monster bug on the lose, he meets pixel-ridden Vanellope (Silverman) and must try to fix things this time.
Though you might not think so initially, the voice cast is quite good here. Reilly leads the show, and he brings a flawless blend of uncertainty, clumsiness, anger, bravery, and tenderness to Ralph. Silverman, McBrayer, and Lynch are terrific casting decisions as well, lending the appropriate humor and various emotions to their characters. The gorgeous animation must also be addressed. It is, literally, eye candy, combining the style of the Wachowskis' Speed Racer with the look of Candy Land. If anything, this should be seen for the look of the film. It has heart, looks stunning, and is a great time spent at the cinema.
Oscar Potential: Best Animated Feature Film
The Man with the Iron Fists (2012)
|RZA's directorial debut is, if nothing else, fun.|
Directed by RZA
Produced by Marc Abraham, Eric Newman, and Eli Roth
Written by RZA and Eli Roth
Starring Russell Crowe, Cung Lee, Lucy Liu, Myron Mann, RZA, Rick Yune, David Bautista, and Jamie Chung
A blacksmith (RZA) makes weapons in an ancient Oriental city. When the King's gold is stolen, he and British officer Jack Knife (Crowe) must take back the treasure from the rebels and deliver the city from its impending doom.
At best, this is a cheesy kung-fu movie with numerous fights, pounding music, and widespread ridiculousness. And you know what? I enjoyed it. As an actor/director, RZA is no tour-de-force, but he performs admirably and steers the film in the right direction as an over-the-top guilty pleasure. Of course, Russell Crowe is awesome in this, reveling in the crazy antics of a knife-wielding killer. I could only smile whenever he was on screen. (Picture here.) Lucy Liu is also a welcome presence, and the rest of the cast does enough to keep the film from falling apart. Again, the fight scenes are many, and are overblown wonders. Will this be remembered even a month from now? Maybe not, but I had fun for an hour and a half.
Oscar Potential: None