Opening in Las Vegas, July 1, 2016

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Another weekend of films getting mediocre reviews. I haven’t seen a movie for three weeks now, and I’m not sure I’m going to this week.

The best reviewed film of the week is Steven Spielberg’s The BFG (66), which does not stand for “Big Fucking Giant,” although I prefer to think it does. Written by the late Melissa Mathison, it seems like a good film for kids, but not for me. Anne Hornaday: “Roald Dahl’s beloved ad­ven­ture tale about a brave little girl who befriends the titular Big Friendly Giant, finds Steven Spielberg in his natural element of childlike enchantment, yet also strangely out of step, his trusted sense of narrative propulsion and pacing occasionally failing him in a saggy, draggy second act.”

When I first heard about The Legend of Tarzan (43), I thought, again? But it has been over thirty years since Greystoke, the best Tarzan film I’ve seen. Alexander Skarsgard and Margot Robbie make an attractive Tarzan and Jane, but there are some questioning whether this character should be put in mothballs. I just may see it if I’m really bored. Steve Persall: “Filmmakers simply can’t make Tarzan like they used to. If someone tries, like director David Yates did with The Legend of Tarzan, he’s just another superhero, swinging on vines rather than spider webs. Natives can’t be restless. Lions won’t be wrestled…Tarzan fans leave feeling Cheetah’d.”

I saw the first Purge, not the second, so it’s doubtbul I see The Purge: Election Year (56). I’m tired of super-violent films that tell us that violence is wrong, when they are reaching out to people who wear red “Make America Great” baseball caps. Bilge Ebiri: “If The Purge: Election Year is ultimately still engaging, it’s largely because of the irresistibility of the basic concept itself. But this new movie also makes a pretty good case for why the series should end here: Things have not only come to their logical conclusion, but you get the curious sense that the filmmakers have run out of ideas.”

In a year of strange concepts for films (see The Lobster) comes Swiss Army Man (61), which combines Cast Away with Weekend at Bernie’s. It seems interesting, but I’m not sure I want to spend a couple of hours watching someone lugging around a flatulent corpse. Jordan Hoffman: “It’s coarse and it’s stupid, but it is, thanks mostly the two good performances and some stylish use of music and editing, a little bit moving.”

 

About Jackrabbit Slim

Location: Vegas, Baby! I’m much older than the other whippersnappers here, a baby boomer. I tend to be more snobbish about film, disdaining a lot of the multiplex fare for “cinema.” My favorite films: Woody Allen’s oeuvre (up until about 1990), The Godfather, The Graduate, A Hard Day’s Night, Pulp Fiction. Politics: Well, George McGovern was my political hero. I’m also a prickly atheist. Occupation: Poised to be an English teacher in Las Vegas. For many years I was an editor at Penthouse Magazine. My role on this blog seems to be writing lots of reviews and being the resident Oscar maven.

7 responses »

  1. I feel like Disney hasn’t even really bothered to run much of a campaign for The BFG. Like FOX with ID4:R, they likely knew what the result was going to be and felt it was better to cut their losses.

    Tarzan seems like a decent flick to catch on cable at some future date, ditto Swiss Army Man.

    Never seen a Purge film.

  2. Disney releasing the BFG in the shadow of Finding Dory, which they have a piece of, is nuts. I guess the appeal was opening a family film over the fourth of July weekend.

    This Tarzan just looks so bland. The special effects are top notchy, I guess, but the way the action is presented in the trailers just isn’t immersive. I’ll stick to the Casper Van Dien classic Tarzan and the Lost City.

  3. I didn’t know this earlier, but Disney is only releasing The BFG in the US, Japan, Germany, Russia, Argentina and Singapore. It’s chopped up between 10 other studios in the rest of the world.

    That would explain their lack of interest in running a Dory/Avengers-esque campaign for it.

  4. Re: the underperforming of BFG, I just wonder whether Spielberg’s name associated with a children’s film – for so long a major selling point – is now seen as a turn-off for a younger generation because he’s seen as ‘old hat’ cinema.

    In contrast, his more recent ‘serious’ films have reached or matched expectations in terms of popularity; maybe he should just focus on this in the future.

  5. Oh, come on. He’s not a god. He’s had misfires and this is one of them. Hook, anyone? Sure this isn’t unwatchable, like Hook is, and the guy’s able to not be able to make a perfect movie once in a while. The Terminal, anyone?

  6. I wasn’t talking about quality, I was talking about box office popularity. As maligned as Hook is (and was) it was one of the most popular films of its year. Obviously this film won’t even get close to that.

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