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Monday, Dec. 23, 2013

Film Clips: Dec. 22

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47 Ronin PG-13

47 Ronin retells a legend based on real events from early-18th-century Japan; after a benevolent lord is killed by an evil lord who uses witchcraft, 47 of the former’s samurai guards vow to avenge his death. The lord’s beautiful daughter Mika (Kô Shibasaki) is one of the prizes sought by the victor, but she is interested only in enigmatic half-breed Kai (Keanu Reeves), who spends much of the film sidelined, or trying to earn respect from the other 46 ronin. Reportedly costing $170 million, the production overflows with CGI evil witches and malevolent dragons. Shot largely on location in Hungary, the film features striking sets and gaudy costumes that resemble other lesser extravaganzas such as Clash of the Titans. (Lisa Miller)

 

Grudge Match PG-13

This film is down for the count with lackluster characterizations and inferior boxing choreography. It’s too bad, since the film starts out well enough, with a couple of aging warhorses (Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro), each nursing a 30-year-old grudge. Initially, the two pugilists appear together for a fake motion-capture bout, each fighter hilariously festooned in a lime-green, hooded onesie, big yellow dots wired to display their movements. Although finding they hate one another more than ever, the popularity of their performance prompts promoters to offer a $100,000 purse for the seniors to get back into the ring together. Let the training commence in this silly flick that is begging for some cheese to go with that whine! (L.M.)

 

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty PG-13

This loose adaptation of the James Thurber short story remakes the 1947 Danny Kaye film with Ben Stiller in the role of unremarkable office worker Walter. Working for Life magazine, Walter has a crush on cute coworker Cheryl (Kristen Wiig), but his own life is so dull that he fantasizes about committing a heroic deed to win her heart. To that end, Walter imagines himself rescuing Cheryl’s puppy from a burning building, prevailing against man-eating sharks, flying close to erupting volcanoes or scaling the forbidding mountains of Afghanistan. His opportunity for real-life adventure presents itself when Walter loses the magazine’s cover photo, and he undertakes an arctic adventure to regain the shot. Sadly, both the imaginary and real action are so cartoonish that it’s nearly impossible to discriminate between the two, or to enjoy the film’s message that everyone is capable being and doing the exceptional. (L.M.)

 

The Wolf of Wall Street R

For the fifth reteaming of Martin Scorsese with Leonardo DiCaprio, the director adapts Jordan Belfort’s memoir of Wall Street corruption. As a crooked banker during the 1990s, Belfort (DiCaprio) frequently narrates the action that reveals the details of his various cons and business scams. Belfort’s lifestyle includes drugs, parties and wild sex (requiring edits to retain the film’s R rating). With his growing financial success Belfort acquires trophy wife Naomi (Margot Robbie), along with mansions, pricey cars, a helicopter and a yacht. Though the story is dramatic, Scorsese often plays it for comedy. Matthew McConaughey appears as Belfort’s tutor, while Belfort’s eager protégé is portrayed by Jonah Hill, whose character is keen to prove himself worthy. Rob Reiner brings on peals of laughter as Belfort’s old-school accountant dad, but it’s DiCaprio’s performance that shines because the actor fully lets down his guard. Although the production is ravishing, those paying close attention to this 3-hour saga will notice mismatched cuts in dialogue-heavy scenes. (L.M.)

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