Richard and CP24 anchor Cristina Tenaglia have a look at the new movies coming to theatres, VOD and streaming services including the Christopher Nolan head scratcher “Tenet,” the Disney+ animated flick “Phineas And Ferb The Movie: Candace Against the Universe,” the timely period piece “The Personal History of David Copperfield,” the long awaited X-Men spin off “The New Mutants” and the return of William S. “Bill” Preston, Esq and Theodore “Ted” Logan in “Bill and Ted Face the Music.”
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with guest host Matt Harris to talk the new movies coming to theatres, VOD and streaming services including the Christopher Nolan mind bender “Tenet,” the Disney+ animated flick “Phineas And Ferb The Movie: Candace Against the Universe,” the timely period piece “The Personal History of David Copperfield,” the wrestling doc “You Cannot Kill David Arquette,” the long awaited X-Men spin off “The New Mutants” and the return of William S. “Bill” Preston, Esq and Theodore “Ted” Logan in “Bill and Ted Face the Music.”
Trading the barbed satire of “The Death of Stalin” for the socially aware period comedy of Charles Dickens, director Armando Iannucci breathes new life into a classic, often told tale.
“The Personal History of David Copperfield” sees Jairaj Varsani play Copperfield as a youngster born into a life of Victorian comfort. His life takes a turn when his widowed mother Clara (Morfydd Clark) marries the sadistic Mr. Murdstone (Darren Boyd) who beats David for the slightest of transgressions. When things come to a head at home David (now played by Dev Patel) is sent away to board with the down-on-his-luck Mr. Micawber (Peter Capaldi) and family and work as child labor at Murdstone’s bottle factory.
David takes steps to shape his destiny after he isn’t told of his mother’s death until after her funeral. Following an emotional scene at the factory, he sets out to find his wealthy aunt Betsey Trotwood (Tilda Swinton) and her lodger, the kite-flying eccentric Mr. Dick (Hugh Laurie) who believes he is possessed by the spirit of King Charles the First. Aunty pays for David’s tony university education, where he confirms his love of language and begins making the detailed notes on the people he meets that will one day form the backbone of his debut book, “The Personal History, Adventures, Experience and Observation of David Copperfield the Younger of Blunderstone Rookery.”
It’s also there that he meets James Steerforth (Aneurin Barnard), a wealthy and witty student and obsequious law clerk Uriah Heep (Ben Whishaw). Both will have a major impact on David’s trajectory from pauper to gentleman and author.
Patel leads a diverse cast, jam packed with oddball characters, that maintains Dickens’s themes while giving the story a contemporary feel. Iannucci has compressed the 600-page book, boiling out the essence of Dickens’s condemnation of exploitation of the weak and comment on wealth and class as a measure of a person’s value. The result is uneven that sometimes feels like a series of vignettes but Iannucci mines a rich comedic vein that smoothes over the story’s fits and starts. Capaldi, Swinton and Laurie deliver broad performances but it is Patel who brings the humanity that balances everything out.
As David, Patel is at the center of the action and grounds some of the story’s more fanciful aspects with a deep humanity.
Iannucci is a Dickens fan and it shows. “The Personal History of David Copperfield” is a sparkling adaptation of the original story that uses wonderful dialogue and physical comedy to paint a heartfelt, serious and timely portrait of social anxiety and inequality.
We’re about to reach the tipping point of the summer and it’s not even the end of May. In a summer crowded with sequels like Avengers: Age of Ultron and Pitch Perfect 2, reboots like Terminator Genisys and Jurassic World, remakes like Poltergeist and Entourage, a TV show blown up for the big screen, along comes Tomorrowland, a big budget film based on an original idea.
Not every film this year is a sequel, prequel or the like, but Tomorrowland, with a budget topping out at $190 million, is the most expensive original film to come down the pike this year.
Borrowing its name from the futuristic themed land found at Disney theme parks, the movie stars George Clooney and Britt Robertson as a former boy genius and gifted teenager who, according to the press materials, “travel to a place somewhere in time and space only known as Tomorrowland where their actions directly affect the world and themselves.”
Disney is deliberately keeping plot details under wraps, hoping the allure of mysterious trailers will draw people in. It’s the opposite of the usual strategy of showcasing the film’s high lights in a two-minute promo.
I was at the D23 Expo in Anaheim, California—imagine the Disney version of Comic Con—in 2013 when Brad Bird and Damon Lindelof unveiled the name of the movie, but little else. In a splashy presentation they claimed a “dusty old box” labelled 1952 found in the Disney Imagineering archives had inspired the story. Containing a mysterious mishmash of items, including a 1928 copy of Amazing Stories magazine, a photograph of Walt Disney and Amelia Earhart allegedly taken after her disappearance, a short animated documentary and an unidentified metal object, they said the idea of the film is to ask “what if these mystery clues were real?”
Teasing the potential audience into buying tickets is an intriguing but risky idea. It’s a risk Bird was willing to take. He turned down the chance to direct Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens to make Tomorrowland, saying, “it’s rare to do a film of this size that’s original, so those opportunities can’t be missed either.”
But will it be an opportunity that moviegoers will embrace? Suggesting that Hollywood only feels comfortable with movies that are presold via brand recognition is an understatement. Whether it is a familiar title with a number added or any movie from the mighty Marvel stable, the big studios aren’t in the habit of taking chances and it’s not their fault. It’s ours.
One of the main complaints I hear from people is that there are no interesting movies in release and yet Furious 7 and Age of Ultron have grossed amounts equal to the GNP of some small nations. By supporting big budget “branded” movies we send the message that original stories don’t interest us, only ones that give us what we expect.
While we have the chance why not take a chance on a movie that takes a risk? That’s the tipping point. Check out Tomorrowland or Ex Machina. If sci fi isn’t your thing, how about Aloha or Inside Out? There is room for all kinds of movies but why not vote with your feet and let the studios know that their steady diet of sequels, prequels and reboots is quickly nearing its best by date.
For a movie set partially in the future “Tomorrowland,” the new action-adventure starring George Clooney, feels kind of old fashioned.
The movie begins in the recent past and the distant future. Precious child inventor Frank (played as a child by Thomas Robinson, Clooney as an adult) has made his way to the 1964 New York World’s Fair, jet pack in hand. There he meets Athena (Raffey Cassidy), a young girl who slips him a mysterious pin that allows him access to Tomorrowland, a future world where all the modern problems have been eradicated.
Years later a similar pin lands in the hands of Casey (Britt Robertson) the daughter of a NASA engineer and all round smarty-pants. Tracing the origin of the pin leads her to Athena, Frank and a mysterious world that has changed somewhat from Frank’s youth. “When I was a kid,” says Frank, “the future was different.”
Director Brad Bird has made a big, handsome movie, ripe with imagination and eye-popping images that attempts to create the same kind of nostalgic awe as vintage Spielberg. He comes close but misses by a hair. Instead he draws out the story for two-hours-and-ten-minutes, taking too long to get to the fairly meagre why-can’t-we-all-just-get-along-and-save-the-world premise. The pacing feels like it is from another era when audiences were more content to sit back and drink in the atmosphere.
The realization of the future world is impressive. From the interconnected swimming pool pods to the special effects—You will believe George Clooney can fly!—to the Jetson’s style architecture it’s an eyeful. “Will you stop being amazed!” Frank says with exasperation, and no, we may not as long as Bird is entertaining the eye. It’s only when he tries to engage the intellect that the movie falters.
Classic sci fiction has never shied away from Saving the Earth and “Tomorrowland” should be congratulated for it’s world-is-going-to-heck point of view, but (MILD SPOILER ALERT) its preachy ‘The world could get better but no one is willing to put in the effort,” stance and ‘The future belongs to the dreamers” attitude it is naive.
“Tomorrowland” is the rare kind of summer movie, one that values its originality and ideas. Too bad it isn’t as forward thinking as the name would suggest.