By Rebecca Kelley
As Spring dawns, officially catching up with what nature already accomplished, one of our favorite heroines hits the big screen. Should you stay at home with this week’s excellent On Demand choices or head out to the theater? This week, there is no choice. May the odds be ever in your favor.
What’s On Demand?
When the old Muppets Studio is threatened with being torn down, it’s up to an idealistic Muppet named Walter to rally Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo and the gang to do – you guessed it – one big show to raise money and save it. With help from Walter’s human brother (Jason Segel) and his girlfriend (Amy Adams), the fuzzy friends burst into song. A lot.
Our take: If there’s anything we’ve learned from the PBS-ethos Muppets, it’s that you can fix any problem with a good telethon. That aside, this movie is delightful, toe-tapping fun. The humor is spot on and the music is fantastic. Underneath, it argues against the cynicism of our age. It was one of the best movies of 2011. Not just one of the best kids’ movies, but one of the best movies overall.
In this film by Steven Spielberg, a boy reporter named Tintin, from the popular graphic novels of the same name, goes on one of his trademark adventures. Chasing would-be treasure thieves across the world, with a drunken sea captain in tow, Tintin and his dog Snowy find clue after clue and joke after joke.
Our take: If you’re a fan of the novels, you’ll love Spielberg’s adaptation in motion-capture animation. All the characters are there, from the bumbling Thompson and Thompson detectives to Captain Haddock. If you’re not a fan, it takes a while to get used to the humor, which uses surprise and inside jokes with the audience more than slapstick, including a gag in which Snowy (and the audience) always sees things Tintin misses. It’s a delightful, action-packed movie for the family.
Gary Oldman stars as the quintessential Cold War spy. In 1970s London, all is serious business at a government spy division called “The Circus.” Agent Smiley (Oldman) is tasked with finding a possible mole at the highest level of the agency. Only problem? The highest levels of the agency are filled with his closest friends and even closer rivals.
Our take: Less tuxedo charm and blazing guns and more introspective character drama, this movie is murky and confusing. Depending on your personality, that can either be part of its charm or its downfall. It is, after all, about the world of spying, and not knowing what’s going on… well, makes you feel like a spy.
While investigating a cold case disappearance and the wealthy family involved, a journalist recruits the help of a subculture hacker named Lisbeth Salander. Salander has lived a hard knock life comprised mostly of knocks, but she’s learned to fight back – which is exactly what someone investigating a ruthless murderer needs on his side.
Our take: Dark to the point of being Gothic, and violent to the point of being shocking, this movie is excellent but it can be hard to watch. The popular heroine is hard as nails and in the context of the movie, you have to be hard as nails to survive the evil of the world, much less fight it. And fight it Salander does – in graphic and violently satisfying ways.
What’s In Theaters?
A team of police officers raid a building full of thugs. The thugs fight back. The officers fight back the fighting back.
Our take: The plot is pretty much in the title. It’s a long, intense raid. Beyond that, it’s an excuse to show brutal but cool fight after fight. Extremely violent and not much else, the film is pretty much mixed martial arts come to life.
Katniss Everdeen (the excellent Jennifer Lawrence) lives in what was once America, starving in the coal mining state called District 12, formerly Appalachia. She is forced to compete in the brutal Hunger Games, an annual gladiatorial battle in which youth from each district are made to fight to the death in a televised bloodletting for the amusement of the decadent Capitol. When not focused on trying to stay alive, Katniss must figure out how she feels about her friend at home, a handsome fellow named Gale, and her fellow District 12 representative, an equally handsome fellow named Peeta.
Our take: If you love the books, you’ll be happy with the movie. The adaptation is excellent, the casting perfect, and the changes made to source material unimportant. If you haven’t read the books, you’ll still be drawn in by the fantastic story and compelling acting. This is one of the biggest movies of the year and it well deserves it. Plus, it leads to all sorts of interesting conversations about violence, war, nationalism, pacifism and Team Gale vs. Team Peeta.
Ticket or Click It?
Ticket! If you haven’t already, go see “The Hunger Games.” If you have, go see it again.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.