Home movies: Captain America, Jurassic Park, The People Vs. George LucasOctober 29, 2011
Captain America: The First Avenger (PG-13, 124 minutes) — The latest Marvel Comics’ has a fine honeyed nostalgia look and the square jawed Chris Evans as the 98-lb. weakling Steve Rogers who becomes a Super Soldier. While it’s not nearly as much fun as the first Iron Man, and its plotting is by the numbers conventional, the scenery chewing supporting cast — Stanley Tucci, Hayley Atwell, Dominic Cooper, Hugo Weaving and above all the shamelessly entertaining Tommy Lee Jones. A solid comic book movie, if that’s what you want. Grade: 86
Father of Invention (PG-13, 93 minutes) — Kevin Spacey plays a Ron Popeil-style informercial entrepeneur who — after losing his company and his family in a product liability scandal that sends him to prison — works toward a surprisingly satisfying redemption. While we seen Spacy play this character many times before, he’s quite good at it.Grade: 86
Jurassic Park Ultimate Trilogy (PG-13, 349 minutes) — The three films — Jurassic Park (1993), The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park III — are offered together on Blu-ray for the first time in a deluxe package. While I’m not a fan of the films — which, special effects aside, seem like some of the least engaging, most vanilla in the Spielberg oeuvre (Joe Johnston actually directed the third installment) — I can appreciate the craft involved in making them. To me, they seem like some of the least interesting films in Spielberg’s oeuvre, but that said, there are some good scenes in the first and second films, and the third one is a marvel of technology. The Lost World is in particular a deft and scary movie witha terrific opening scene — a little girl is attacked by a scuttling gang of miniature “compies” (Procompsognathus triassicus) after she offers to share a bit of her roast beef sandwich with the adorable little creatures. The scene is made the more effective by Spielberg’s restraint; he doesn’t show us the attack itself, but instead returns his camera to the child’s parents — lounging on a nearby beach— in order to bring us their reactions to her screams. It is a creepily subtle bit of filmmaking, a scene that seems much darker than the rest of this preposterous roller coaster of a movie.
We learn soon enough that the child wasn’t seriously injured. After all, the archipelago where most of the trilogy is set has more to do with Disneyland than the Europe of Schindler’s List. Grade: 86
The People Vs. George Lucas (Not rated, 93 minutes) — The fanboys strike back in Alexandre O. Philippe’s deeply interesting takedown of the Star Wars creator cum the love/hate relationship he’s engendered with his fans since the mid-1990s or so, and makes a cogent case for the collaborative nature of filmmaking extends to the audience itself. (I’m hoping for a chance to write on this film at length. Wish me luck.) Grade: 88
Shaolin (R, 130 minutes)— Long and clunky, brazenly nationalistic Chinese martial arts epic set in 1920s China features Jackie Chan as comic relief in the story of an arrogant warlord brought low and forced into hiding as a Shaolin monk. Some mistake this sort of bombastic stuff for glorious, sumptuous moviemaking but I think it’s all kind of snoozy. Grade: 78
Winnie the Pooh (G, 63 minutes) — Slight but charming revival of the Disney version of A.A. Milne’s stories from the Hundred Acre Wood, had our honey-loving hero and friends searching for Eeyore’s tail. Sweet and restrained. The DVD is padded out with a couple of animated shorts. Grade: 87