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Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013

Film Clips: Nov. 27

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Black Nativity PG

This contemporary adaptation of Langston Hughes’ play follows the lessons learned by street-wise Baltimore teen Langston (Jacob Latimore). When his single mom (Jennifer Hudson) takes Langston to New York City to spend the holidays with his estranged grandparents (Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett), Langston is surprised to learn that Granddad is a Reverend, and he isn’t happy when he insists that the lad attend church. Used to doing more or less as he likes in Baltimore, Langston considers running away, but the loving, if strict, guidance provided by his grandparents exerts a stronger influence than Langston first realizes. Though some will find the plot overly contrived, the film’s assertion that faith and family can heal what ails us will fill others with holiday cheer. (Lisa Miller)

 

Frozen-3D PG

This animated production is a barely recognizable adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen. As a teen, Elsa (voiced by Idina Menzel) is thrust upon the throne where she becomes obsessed with her magical ability to plunge her Nordic nation into a perpetual winter. Unable to stop herself, Elsa runs off to the forest. Elsa’s sister Anna (Kristen Bell) is determined to release Elsa’s wintery grasp, and pursues her sister with help from a company that includes a mountain man, his loyal reindeer and a hapless snowman named Olaf. Meanwhile, a competing expedition to find Elsa turns out to have sinister motives. Shivery, iridescent scenery and eight original songs create a spell that is routinely disrupted by Anna’s 21st-century vernacular. Otherwise, the film revels in female empowerment and practices it by placing Jennifer Lee in the co-director’s chair, making her the first woman to direct an in-house Disney animated feature. (L.M.)

 

Homefront R

Based on the Chuck Logan novel, Homefront stars Jason Statham as former DEA agent Phil Broker, now living quietly in rural Rayville, La., with Maddy (Izabela Vidovic), his 10-year-old daughter. When the school bully picks a fight with the girl, Maddy gives better than she gets, earning Broker the wrath of the bully’s mom Cassie (Kate Bosworth). To exact her revenge, Cassie appeals to her meth-dealing brother Gator (James Franco—relishing the opportunity) who brings his thugs to teach Broker a lesson. Finding Broker to be an expert fighter, Gator takes a different tact when he kidnaps Maddy with help from his biker girlfriend (Winona Ryder). Despite landing Statham in his butt-kicking wheelhouse, the film suffers from outdated stereotypes and a by-the-numbers plot. (L.M.)

 

Oldboy R

Joe Doucett (Josh Brolin) is kidnaped and held in a private prison where he’s kept in solitary confinement. On the 20th anniversary of Joe’s incarceration, he’s suddenly released without explanation. Determined to find out who imprisoned him and why, have his revenge and locate his only child (a daughter), Joe undertakes an obsessive search. This Spike Lee remake of the highly rated, emotionally charged 2003 Korean film nearly took a different path, only to wind up back where it began. In 2009, Steven Spielberg was set to direct with Will Smith starring in an adaptation based upon the Manga comic. A lawsuit by the comic’s publisher killed that project. Daring and provocative, this film’s resolution is gasp worthy, but whether it will appeal to American audiences remains to be seen. (L.M.)