MOVIES: 'Happy Feet Two,' 'Tower Heist' & 'In Time'
Following are Susan Granger's reviews of the latest reviews of movies in area theaters:
"HAPPY FEET TWO"
With Thanksgiving vacation coming up, this fresh, funny, family-friendly, animated fantasy is something to be very thankful for!
"Everything in this world -- no matter how big or how small -- is connected in ways that we never expected." so, as the story opens in Antarctica's Emperor community, tap-dancing Mumble (voiced by Elijah Wood) and singing Gloria (voiced by Alecia Moore, a.k.a. Pink) are trying to help Erik (voiced by Ava Acres), their fluffy fledgling, through a difficult adolescence.
Filled with self-doubt because he's unable to dance, mocked, misunderstood Erik runs away, accompanied by two little pals, and winds up with "uncle" Ramon (voiced by Robin Williams) in the Adelie penguin community, where he's befriended by the guru Rockhopper penguin Lovelace (also voiced by Robin Williams) and the Mighty Sven (voiced by Hank Azaria), an exotic, flying penguin with a massive red beak and tufts of yellow hair on the back of his head. When worried Mumbles finds Erik and his friends and tries to take them home across a precarious ice-bridge, their way is blocked by a stubborn elephant seal, Bryan the Beachmaster (voiced by Richard Carter), who winds up in a deep crevasse as powerful forces driven by Mother Nature unleash a ferocious storm.
Meanwhile, deep below in the sea, two tiny krill, delusional Will and terrified Bill (voiced by Brad Pitt and Matt Damon) decide to swim away from their swarm to try to evolve higher up on the food chain -- and their story somewhat parallels Erik's.
Writer/director/producer George Miller and his cohorts Gary Eck and David Peers once again appeal to "the adult in the child and the child in the adult," illustrating life- lessons about being brave while being true to yourself. This timeless tale of family and friendship is a visual delight with its spectacular motion-capture/computer technology inspired by dancer Savion Glover and choreographers Wade Robson and Kate Wormald.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Happy Feet Two" is a nimble, stompin' 9. It's a charming, cheerful crowd-pleaser and the 3-D is terrific.
As comedy capers go, this battle-of-wits satisfies, primarily because it's more caper than comedy.
Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller) manages one of New York's most luxurious residences, the Tower (think Trump Tower). Dutifully determined to please its owner, Wall Street tycoon Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda), he is meticulous about every detail -- until selfish, arrogant Shaw is arrested for masterminding a Ponzi scheme that swindled $2 billion from his shareholders (think Bernie Madoff). Since Kovacs asked Shaw to invest the employees' pension fund, he feels personally responsible for the financial losses of everyone on his staff.
That's why he's determined to steal back greedy Shaw's $20 million stash. Problem is: Shaw has been placed under house arrest and his penthouse apartment is guarded by an FBI squad, headed by tough Special Agent Claire Denham (Tea Leoni). So Kovacs assembles an amiable, if eclectic team that includes expectant father Charlie (Casey Affleck), the concierge; Mr. Fitzhugh (Matthew Broderick), a bankrupt, recently evicted banker; cheerful elevator operator Enrique Dev'Reaux (Michael Pena); about-to-retire doorman Lester (Stephen McKinley Henderson), and Odessa (Gbourney Sidibe), a feisty, flirtatious Jamaican maid. With their varied skill-sets, they're familiar with all the intricacies of the Tower. But since no one knows exactly how to execute a heist, Shaw recruits rude, confrontational Slide (Eddie Murphy), an experienced thief who, coincidentally, grew up in the same Queens neighborhood that he did.
Predictably, as the loopholes in their plan become larger, the tension mounts and there are some unexpected twists that don't unravel until close to the conclusion.
Written by Ted Griffin and Jeff Nathanson, based on a far-fetched story by Adam Cooper, Bill Collage and Ted Griffin, it's directed by Brett Ratner and superbly lensed by cinematographer Dante Spinote -- with a prized, 1963 Ferrari dangling from dizzying heights and dazzling glimpses of Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. While Stiller's straight man propels the plot, each cast member has memorable moments, particularly Alda and Murphy.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Tower Heist" is a slick 7, a smart, timely, topical revenge riff.
Serendipitously coinciding with nationwide Occupy Wall Street demonstrations against income inequality, this thriller ventures into the bleak future, where money buys time.
In this sci-fi world, when people reach 25, that's as far aging goes, and they have one more year to live before they die. A greenish, glowing digital clock on their forearm indicates how much longer they have. But extra time can be bought, sold, exchanged, traded or stolen by the clasp of hands. Wages are paid in minutes and hours. Rent might cost several days, a phone call one minute, coffee four minutes and an hour gets 10 minutes with a prostitute.
For people like Will Sala (Justin Timberlake) and his mother, Rachel (Olivia Wilde), living in the working-class Dayton ghetto, it's a constant challenge to keep their arm clock from hitting zero -- like when Rachel fatally underestimates bus fare. But for the very rich, like calculating industrialist Philippe Weis (Vincent Kartheiser), who live in New Greenwich district, banking on immortality is expected. So when Will encounters a suicidal stranger (Matt Bomer) and is given an unexpected gift of time, he decides to kidnap Weis' daughter, Sylvia (Amanda Seyfried), who falls in love with him and wants to give him all the time he needs so they can change the system. But they're doggedly pursued by an unstoppable Timekeeper (Cillian Murphy).
Best known for "Gattaca" (1997), writer/director Andrew Niccol creates yet another dystopian allegory, only -- this time -- he fares less well. Perhaps it's because he never develops the provocative premise any further -- like why would kidnapping Sylvia change society's global time-redistribution structure? Or perhaps it's because in "Gattaca" he teamed Uma Thurman with Ethan Hawke, igniting not only an on-screen but also a real-life romance.
But here he pairs Amanda Seyfried with Justin Timberlake and both go through the motions with an obvious lack of passion. Meanwhile, the rest of the cast of twentysomethings is forgettable.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "In Time" is a slickly stylized 6, adroitly rigging the economic currency.