Finally the holiday movie floodgates have opened. There’s something or everyone this week in Sin City: Oscar bait, the end of a billion-dollar epic, family fare, and a bad musical.
Finally, finally, Peter Jackson is done with the works of Tolkien (unless he plans an adaptation of The Silmarillion) and presents the third and last installment: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (59). It’s pretty much a consensus that The Hobbit has lacked the charm and excitement of The Lord of the Rings, but it’s still a cash cow. I will catch up with this on DVD. Stephen Rea: “If you want to see a Renaissance faire turned into an apocalyptic battlefield, this is the ticket.”
Another movie, part trois, is The Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (45). I’ve seen none of these films, and am unlikely to start now. Notable only for one of Robin Williams’ last performances. Jamie Neish: “Looped around a paper-thin narrative that makes hardly any sense, Secret of the Tomb displays signs of fatigue right from the start.”
What would a big holiday season be without a turkey? Annie (32) seems to fit the ticket, making critics nostalgic for the John Huston version of a generation ago. A. O. Scott: “The cast would have been better served by a middle school production overseen by a creatively frustrated, inappropriately ambitious drama teacher than by this hacky, borderline-incompetent production, which was directed by Will Gluck from a screenplay by Aline Brosh McKenna.”
In the Oscar Bait category, we’re getting two films that have already opened on the coasts. I’ll start with the more intriguing, Foxcatcher (82), with Steve Carell going dark as the twisted DuPont heir/wrestling fetishist. I’ve loved Bennett Miller’s output so far, and am very much looking forward to this. Joe Neumaier: “Rare is the drama that plumbs the quirky, unsettling depths of human nature like Foxcatcher. Simultaneously understated and grippingly edgy, this is an arresting examination of naivete, mismatched worlds and old-fashioned American oddness.”
Getting more mixed reviews is Wild (75), where Reese Witherspoon hikes her way to an Oscar nomination. I will see this, despite misgivings. Mick LaSalle: “Wild has so many things in its favor that it’s tempting to leave out the fact that it’s a movie about a hike that sometimes feels like being on a hike, a long one, without many changes of scenery. But the movie’s achievement is that it overcomes this.”