TRON: Legacy – Hey naysayers, what did you really want from a sequel to TRON (1982)? Forget story, TRON: Legacy is a 3-D special effects extravaganza that is breathtaking, sexy, and extremely cool (especially the awesome Daft Punk soundtrack, which you will want to buy as soon as you exit the theatre). Jeff Bridges reprises his role as Kevin Flynn, a computer programmer who has been living inside a computer game for 20 years battling his alter-ego Clu (Bridges made to look like he did in 1982). When his son Sam (Garrett Hedlund) joins him inside the machine to rescue him, Clu attempts to crush both of them so he can escape to the real world himself. With the help of Quorra (Olivia Wilde) the three must survive a series of high-tech games on the grid in order get back to safety. Bruce Boxleitner also returns as Alan Bradley/Tron, and Michael Sheen gives a great performance as a club owner that resembles something from A Clockwork Orange (1971). **** out of 5 stars.
The Fighter – The Fighter is a fairly straight biopic based on the true story of boxer “Irish” Micky Ward (portrayed by Mark Wahlberg) and his drug addict half-brother/trainer Dicky Eklund (portrayed by Christian Bale). Bale’s performance is what makes the movie work and keeps it from being a complete failure, while Wahlberg is terrible and never shows any range (just because you can workout for a part doesn’t mean you are a good actor). I actually found Wahlberg was better in The Other Guys earlier this year and felt he was miscast in this (I sense the producer credit helped him land the part). Melissa Leo (who plays their mother Alice) and Amy Adams (who plays Micky’s girlfriend Charlene) were both good in their roles, but neither delivered anything we haven’t seen before (again, just because an actress can get ugly for a part doesn’t mean they deserve an Oscar). Directed by David O. Russell (Three Kings, I Heart Huckabees), The Fighter doesn’t come close to being this year’s The Wrestler, and it would surprise me if it’s remembered in the future the way Rocky still is today. *** out of 5 stars.
Rabbit Hole – It’s been eight months since Becca and Howie Corbett (Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart) lost their son Daniel in a freak accident, and each day is still a struggle for the couple who are growing farther apart. When group therapy doesn’t work, the two look to other people to help them grieve. Directed by John Cameron Mitchell, Rabbit Hole is hands-down the most emotionally powerful and touching film of the year. Kidman’s performance is one of the greatest achievements of her career, and the film is definitely one of my top 10 of the year. **** out of 5 stars.
Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale – If you’re looking for a great film about Santa Claus being evil, Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale is a must-see. It’s a total bizarre and eerie trip, and the fairytale backstory of who Santa really was (basically a horned monster who spanked bad children to death) is intriguing, and had my mind wandering for days after seeing it. Go support this gem before Christmas. In Finnish and English with English subtitles. *** out of 5 stars. Opening in Toronto at The Royal.
Also opening this week is Warner Bros.’ 3-D live-action-animated hybrid Yogi Bear, the James Brooks comedy How Do You Know (starring Owen Wilson, Paul Rudd, and Reese Witherspoon), Julie Taymor’s adaptation of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and I, Don Giovanni (Toronto), about Lorenzo da Ponte’s collaboration with Mozart on the opera Don Giovanni.