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Posts Tagged ‘James McAvoy’

James McAvoy

James McAvoy

“VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN” My rating: C-

109 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

“It’s alive!” rejoices Dr. Frankenstein (James McAvoy) as an ungodly mess of dead chimpanzee parts begins to stir on his operating table.

Too bad the same cannot be said of “Victor Frankenstein,” an elaborate production design in search of a movie.

The Frankenstein legend has so often been explored and exploited by filmmakers that screenwriter Max Landis and director Paul McGuigan deserve credit for at least trying something different.

This time around the “hero” is the hunchbacked assistant Igor, who far from being a demented moron is played by Daniel Radcliffe as a natural genius, albeit one who for his entire life has been the virtual prisoner of a traveling circus in Victorian England.

During performances this wretched nameless creature dons white makeup and is abused by the other clowns. In his off hours the hunchback studies anatomy and is the circus’ unofficial physician.

He’s rescued by medical student Victor Frankenstein, a hyperactive visionary who cures his new friend’s twisted spine, gives him a new identity (that of Igor, Frankenstein’s drug-addicted roommate who has been missing for months), and makes him a partner in his bizarro experiments.

The transformed Igor not only begins to experience something like normalcy, he strikes up a love relationship with the beautiful aerialist (“Downton Abbey’s” Jessica Brown Findlay) whom previously he worshipped from afar.

But Igor’s bliss keeps getting in the way of Frankenstein’s monomaniacal quest to give life to dead tissue.

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James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain...in happier times.

James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain…in happier times.

“THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ELEANOR RIGBY: THEM”  My rating: C  (Now showing at the Glenwood Arts)

121 minutes | MPAA rating: R

The hype over “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby” has been so pervasive that a letdown was pretty much inevitable.

It’s not a bad film — just a minor one. A forgettable one.

Actually, we’re talking about three movies. “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them,” now playing in Kansas City, stars Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy. It’s about the breakup of a marriage in the wake of a tragedy.

But writer/director Ned Benson has created two other films using the same cast and basic plot that tell the story from the separate points of view of the wife, Eleanor, and the husband, Conor. One of these is “TDER: Her”; the other is “TDER: Him.” Presumeably theaters that are showing “TDER: Them” will also book the other two features.

Here’s the problem.  Based on “Them,” I’m not eager to follow these characters for another four hours.

In fact, I found this film irritating despite the solid performances. Benson is a parsimonious storyteller who rations out important information, keeping his cards hidden and giving us what we need to know in meager dribbles.

The film begins with Eleanor’s attempted suicide jump from NYC’s 59th Street Bridge.  Plucked from the East River she spends some time in a pysch ward and then ends up in the suburban home of her parents.  Dad (William Hurt) is a psychologist and educator; Mom (Isabelle Huppert) mostly survives on cigarettes and red wine.

There’s also a younger sister (Jess Wiexler) who with her young son have moved back home after the breakup of her marriage.

How do psychologists raise such psychologically messed-up kids? Just wondering.

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Trance 1“TRANCE”  My rating: C- (Opening wide on April 12)

101 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Danny Boyle is like that little girl with the curl.  When’s he’s good (“Trainspotting,” “Shallow Grave,” “28 Days Later,” “`127 Hours”) he’s very good.

And when he screws up – as with “A Life Less Ordinary” and now “Trance” – he’s awful.

“Trance” is a crime thriller so overthought and overwrought  that it no longer makes any sense.

It begins with London auction house underling Simon (James McAvoy) attempting to save a precious Goya painting from a gang of crooks who have taken over the premises. In the process he gets banged on the noggin and awakens with no memory of what he’s done with the painting.

This is particularly galling to Frank (Vincent Cassel), the creepily threatening chief robber. You see, Simon was in on the caper and was to have delivered the painting for a fat cut of the proceeds. And now we’re supposed to believe he forgot where he put the goods?

After yanking out all of Simon’s fingernails, Frank is forced to admit that this may be a genuine case of amnesia. He sends Simon to hypnotherapist Elizabeth Lamb (Rosario Dawson), hoping that she can unlock the secrets in her patients’ skull.

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X-MEN: FIRST CLASS  My rating: B-

132 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

There are moments in “X-Men: First Class” that are so good they almost don’t belong in a superhero movie.

This is a backhanded compliment, I know. But that’s how I feel about the genre — the less it’s like a superhero movie, the better.

And before it backslides into the usual cliches, “First Class” delivers some very interesting stuff.

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