The Quotables Review: Bitesized Edition (USA) #4
USA Film Releases | Friday 11th February 2011
After a dry first week at the February box office, screens are beginning to fill up with some new releases. The latest from Dreamworks Studio and the team who brought us Shrek, Gnomeo and Juliet, opens with reasonably good reviews, while Justin Bieber gets his screen debut. Kevin MacDonald’s eagerly anticipated The Eagle is our pick of the week.
Gnomeo and Juliet
Shakespeare’s classic tale is given a garden style redesign in Dreamworks latest CG film. The eponymous gnomes, in love but divided by family feuds are voiced by James McAvoy and Emily Blunt.
Given that writer/director Kelly Asbury is a veteran of the Shrek franchise (he directed Shrek 2) it’s hardly surprising to find that the film shares an irreverent pop sensibility, but this goes against it, as does the lack of a genuinely standout sequence.
— Rob Carnevale, The List
For adults, Gnomeo & Juliet lacks wit, but the gnomes, artfully chipped and scratched, have a nifty 3-D tactility, and the title duo makes for an off-kilter pair of romantic action figures… Gnomeo & Juliet is sweet and mildly touching, its feelings hinging mostly on a score of Elton John songs. (John is the film’s executive producer.) Every movie about cuddly dwarf statues in an English garden should have music this big.
— Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly
Justin Bieber: Never Say Never
Never Say Never tracks the rise and rise of Canada (and possibly the world)’s biggest teen pop sensation. Rendered in 3D, it’s a culmination of the star’s modest beginnings as a performer in Stratford, Ontario, all the way to his sold-out show at Madison Square Gardens.
A memento for the fans who have fuelled his meteoric rise over the last two years, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never is a fitfully engaging concert documentary that stays on message so strenuously it barely has room to breathe…. Never Say Never’s insistence on furthering the Bieber brand makes the movie feel more like a well-honed presidential campaign than an insightful look into the teen sensation.
— Tim Grierson, Screen Daily
Bieber mania reaches its zenith! Pessimists will liken Jon Chu’s polished and proficient all-access documentary to an apocalyptic sign of the times. (An adolescent phenom gets a triumphalist big-screen biography? Where’s that razor?) The converted shall preach the gospel with ear-shattering shrieks and hands raised in heart-shaped ecstasy. Can there be a middle ground?
— Keith Uhlich, Time Out NY
Pick of the week: The Eagle
Scottish director Kevin MacDonald returns to the mountains of Scotland in 140AD, twenty years after the disappearance of the Ninth Legion, Roman centurion Marcus (played by Channing Tatum) and his British slave (Jamie Bell) set out into the highlands to retrieve the lost legion’s emblem, the Eagle of the Ninth.
Director Kevin Macdonald, who fared poorly with historical drama in the factitious Idi Amin biopic The Last King of Scotland, performs an appreciable act of imagination here. The Eagle’s focus on Marcus’ personal mission avoids the specious allegory of the insulting Prince of Persia and steers clear of the dubious political metaphor in Macdonald’s contemporary espionage film State of Play.
— Armond White, New York Press
Without pretense, Macdonald regards landscape and tribal living mythically, and his collaging of visual planes throughout is practically expressionistic… The overall theme is the need and struggle for brotherhood, and it finds its most dazzling and poetic expression in a scene in which a warrior tribesman’s face makeup washes away with the tides—a murder that plays as the birth of a nation.
— Ed Gonzalez, Slate Magazine
What are you watching at the movies this weekend? Drop us a comment or Tweet your mini-reviews to us @QuotablesHQ!