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This Week's Film Reviews (Sep 8, 2016)

10 Sep 2016


SULLY and THE WILD LIFE open this week.


SULLY (USA 2016) **

Directed by Clint Eastwood

Director Clint Eastwood follows his high successful AMERICAN SNIPER, a story of an unlikely American hero with SULLY, a story of a likely American hero.

SULLY is the movie based on Chesley “Sully” Sullenberg's 2010 autobiography, Highest Duty that envisions the American sense of common humanity.

The so-called miracle on the Hudson occurred in 2009.  This was the safe landing on the Hudson of a plane that had two of its engines blown.  The captain of the flight known fondly as SULLY piloted the plane to safety saving the lives of all 155 passengers and crew.  Heralded a hero but not until cleared of accusations that his decisions were not the best, this is the film that praises, or over-praises the deed.

The question is that do we need to re-watch a re-enactment of a story already told and known to most Americans?  There is always a need at any time for a story of heroism.  In these times of terrorist attacks, Americans need to be reminded of their heroes.  SULLY seems a film to do just that.

Eastwood, known to be right-winged, has directed SULLY (Tom Hanks) to show a hero with all the right words to say and a man who can do no harm.  He is blessed with a loving family and a wife (Laura Linney) who professes her lover for him constantly.

Eastwood’s film, shot in IMAX shows the plane’s landing on the Hudson in all its glorious images.  But there is no suspense or thrills as the audience is well aware of the fact that everyone on board survived.  The landing is shown in clumsy flashback, when Sully is having a drink at the bar, again congratulated at very possible moment in the film.  Parts of the landing are shown twice as if the audience need be reminded of the heroic deed.

But with the story of SULLY already known, and no real facts provided or insight on the story, Eastwood’s film grows to be quite a bore quite soon, and remains so throughout its full 2 hours and 10 minutes, that seems to be the staple running time for all of his films.

Though Hanks has been praised for his portrayal of SULLY, his performance is nothing new.  Like his role in HOLOGRAM, Hanks looks as if he is sleepwalking through his performance.  Often sleepless like his character in HOLOGRAM and always thinking of what would have happened or what would have not, Hanks sulks most of the time, looking as if the plane landing was all a dream.  Laura Linney who plays Lorraine, Sully’s wife  mopes all the time too.  The audience gets a glimpse of the real Lorraine Sullenberger, i.e. Sully’s wife at the closing credits.

The audience at the promo screening applauded and seem pleased with the film.  Who would not applaud a hero?  Still Eastwood’s SULLY is nothing more than a recounting of events, overpraising its hero and lacks any solid thrills or imagination.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjKEXxO2KNE



Directed by Vincent Kesteloot

ROBINSON CRUSOE is a 2015 Belgium animated feature shot originally in French and dubbed in English and released by Lionsgate in Canada under the different title of THE WILD LIFE.  As the title implies, it is the story of Robinson Crusoe - the untold story as told by the animals of the island Crusoe gets shipwrecked on.  Crusoe is depicted as a clumsy clot, aided by the animals of the island in gratitude for saving them from the mean cats.

The story is told in flashback by the parrot who gives the story his point of view.  On a tiny isolated South Pacific Island, Mak, the parrot and his friends live the perfect life.  Blue skies, beautiful turquoise water, and lots of delicious fruit and crunchy insects. But every day is the same and Mak is really bored.  Convinced there is more than just water over the horizon, he dreams of leaving his little paradise and exploring the world. Then one day, after a violent tropical storm, they wake up to find a huge ship broken up on the beach.

Two strange creatures emerge from the bowels of the shipwreck: Robinson Crusoe and his dog Aynsley. Unbeknownst to everyone, two ferocious cats have also survived the storm.  The rest of the film is Crusoe and animals surviving the invasion of the two cats who have now sprouted a litter of equally ferocious and ugly kittens.

THE WILD LIFE cannot compete with the superior animation of Pixar or Disney Studios.  But given its limitations, the animation is still solid, with 3-dimensional figures (as compared to the 2-D old school) that are now a staple for animated films.  The inventiveness like the maze of pipes in Crusoe’s house is a wonder and the chase around the plumbing is sheer delight.

The film suffers from not having a true villain.  The scavenger cats make ugly villains, but having the pa and ma felines having a hungry litter only make them more sympathetic than evil.  The disposal of Crusoe’s dog is sad and would scare kids.  Apart form this, most of the action is harmless fun with no real terror, violence or hint of foul language.

The film’s humour is derived from animal slapstick, chases and dumb talk.  Adults will find the humour childish but the kids should be having a field day. The film also contains a few catchy tunes, just enough not to bore the audience.  The film also contains a message (seems to be a staple for all animated family films these days) which is that home is where you make it - as the parrot learns.

The European touch is evident throughout the film.  For one, the animals on the island make up a strange bunch, not too well known animals as found in American animal films.  Besides the common parrot, other lesser known animals that make the cast include a tapir, an echidna and a chameleon.  The voices are provided by an European cast for the French version and Americans for the dubbed version.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3dyAWBMF6bE

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