New Film Reviews
Finally, a Rashomon for the whole family. This cartoon version of "Little Red Riding Hood" tells and retells its story from a variety of perspectives, all of them boring. Red (Anne Hathaway) is your standard cartoon heroine: plucky, independent, missing at least one parent. The Wolf (Patrick Warburton) is a private detective on the trail of some recipes. And in case you've ever wanted to hear Glenn Close say, "'Fo' shizzle!" her Granny is an extreme-sports-loving, hip-hopping old coot. To court fans of Shrek, the movie is peppered with in jokes, pop culture references, and plenty of pop songs—James Belushi's Woodsman character sings a particularly bizarre one about schnitzel. Sluggishly paced and stiffly animated, Hoodwinked pulls out all the stops to keep its attention-deficient audience occupied, but the snowboarding, skiing, hang-gliding, and kung fu sequences will still be a lot more fun in the Hoodwinked video game. If I was Disney, I'd sign that new contract with Pixar real quick. (Matt Singer) (Countywide)
TRISTAN & ISOLDE
Originated in ancient Celtic myth and immortalized by Wagner, the story of these doomed eponymous lovers—the Romeo and Juliet of the Dark Ages—gets the big screen treatment care of director Kevin Reynolds and executive producer Ridley Scott (who reportedly spent two decades developing the project for himself before passing the baton). The result is a respectable, but unspectacular retelling of the oft-told tale, about the brave English knight Tristan (James Franco) whose love for the beautiful Irish princess Isolde (Sophia Myles)—betrothed to his surrogate father, the Cornish King Marke (Rufus Sewell)—threatens to destroy a tenuous alliance between their two nations. The physical production is impressive—not least the stark, monochromoatic imagery of the Polish cinematographer Artur Reinhart—and, as in Scott's recent Kingdom of Heaven, an admirable effort is made to bring realism to a historical period often glimpsed through the veil of fantasy. But as for the storied passion at the center of this tale, it burns about as brightly as a matchstick in a rainstorm. That's hardly Myles' fault—the comely British newcomer makes for an effortlessly period-appropriate Isolde, an enchanting naive to set beside Q'Orianka Kilcher's Pocohontas. But the tense, overly methodical Franco spends most of his screen time seemingly more in the throes of constipation than concupiscence. The film's one indisputably great performance comes from Sewell, whose Marke is no mere cuckold, but a good, honorable man caught up in circumstances beyond his ken, and ultimately this Tristan & Isolde's most tragic figure. (Scott Foundas) (Countywide)
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