In America, Thanksgiving is usually a big weekend for movie-going, with a lot of films opening. There’s a mixed bag this weekend, including some Oscar bait and the latest in one of Hollywood’s longest-running series about a certain puglilist.
Creed (82) is the seventh Rocky picture, if you look at it that way. But Rocky is just a supporting character now, as he trains Apollo Creed’s son for the big fight. The film is getting great reviews, and Stallone wisely has turned over the reins to a real director. Michael Phillips: “Half the film, written by Coogler and Aaron Covington, revels in cliches, skillfully. The other half sidesteps them and concentrates on scenes and relationships that breathe easily and draw us in the hard way: not by narrative fiat or bald calculation, but through well-written and shrewdly acted encounters.”
Creed may pick up an Oscar nomination or two, but the designed Oscar bait is Brooklyn (87), a rose-colored look at an immigrant’s story in the 1950’s. I reviewed it here, and found it to be a little too soft around the edges. Jeff Baker: “All involved bring a warm eccentricity that lifts what in lesser hands could be a collection of cliches about the contrasts between the Old World and the New.”
For the kids is The Good Dinosaur (67), which asks the question, what if dinosaurs had evolved and had continued the dominant lifeform (a good novel on this subject is West of Eden, by Harry Harrison). Drew McWeeny: “The Good Dinosaur is fine. I found myself moved by it on a very direct level. Technically speaking, it’s a gorgeous film in many ways, but I’m still not a fan of the super-cartoony style of the characters over the photo-realistic world, which is genuinely jaw-dropping.”
Some Hollywood history is on display in Trumbo (60), about the screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, who was blacklisted and wrote under pseudonyms. Starring Bryan Cranston. Gregory Ellwood: “Cranston has his moments and you have to laud his attention to detain in channeling Trumbo’s unique voice and mannerisms. Unfortunately, he’s so committed that his character borders on being a caricature.”
And for horror fans, there is yet another movie based on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, this time called Victor Frankenstein (35), starring James McAvoy as the mad doctor and Daniel Radcliffe as Igor. To point out how unfaithful this is to the novel, there was no Igor in the book. I will have to see this on DVD, because I have to see all Frankenstein movies, no matter how dreadful. Alfonso Duralde: “Whether or not one should tamper in God’s domain remains a matter of opinion, but Victor Frankenstein provides evidence that mere mortals should not mess with what Ms. Shelley hath wrought.”