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Posts Tagged ‘Marc Forster’

Pooh, Ewan McGregor

“CHRISTOPHER ROBIN” My rating: C- 

104 minutes | MPAA rating: PG

Few moviegoing experiences are as disheartening as the film that aspires to the whimsical and charming but instead falls flat on its boring face.

Welcome to “Christopher Robin,” Disney’s ill-conceived live-action (mostly) fantasy about the adult life of the little boy who used to play with Pooh, Piglet and the other animals in the Hundred Acre Woods.

Unlike last year’s “Goodbye Christopher Robin,” which was a loose biography of Pooh creator A.A. Milne and his son, Christopher Robin Milne, this new effort from director Marc Forster unfolds in an alternative universe in which Milne and the Pooh books don’t exist (although the movie opens with animated versions of the famous book illustrations by E.H. Shepard…so you can be forgiven if you’re confused).

In a prologue little Christopher Robin (his first name is Christopher, his last Robin) says goodbye to his toy companions as he prepares for boarding school.  Pooh and the others — rendered in what appears to be a combination of puppetry and computer effects — are left behind to mourn the loss of their human friend.

In a montage we see the grown Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor) meet and marry Evelyn (Hayley Atwell), go off to World War II and become a father to young Madeline (Bronte Carmichael).  By now he’s all but forgotten his childhood companions; he’s up to his neck in troubles as a middle manager at a London luggage company on the verge of bankruptcy. Christopher is so consumed by business woes that he’s alienating his wife and child.

And then one day — tah DAH — Pooh uses a magic portal (in a tree) to come to London to look for his old friend. The harried businessman spends a day back in the Hundred Acre Woods, slowly getting back in touch with his childhood self.

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WW Z“WORLD WAR Z” My rating: B- (Opening wide on June 21)

116 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

Even before it hit theaters Brad Pitt’s “World War Z” was making headlines for its behind-the-scenes drama: a mid-production change in direction, major rewrites, more than $20 million in reshoots, a nine-month delay in releasing the picture and, finally, the disowning of the finished film by Max Brooks (son of funnyman Mel), on whose novel it is based.

True, fans of the book will scarcely recognize it in the final version of director Marc Forster’s film. But as a pure movie experience “World War Z” is generally satisfying: breathlessly-paced, competently acted and audacious in its efforts to give us zombies of the sort we’ve never seen before. (Face it…the whole zombie thing was running on creative fumes.)

What makes “World War Z” really interesting is its “macro zombie” approach to the genre. The zombies in this film aren’t treated as individuals but as a part of a huge voracious hive which moves and attacks like a swarm of insects.

Rather than giving us the usual close ups of zombies chowing down on the necks and limbs of screaming victims, the film offers a tsunami of the undead pouring over walls and flowing down streets like unstoppable floodwaters.  This makes for a very different zombie flick, one that got a relatively tame PG-13 from the MPAA ratings board yet still packs a big visceral punch.

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Gerard Butler in "Machine Gun Preacher"

“MACHINE GUN PREACHER” My rating: B (Opens wide on Oct. 7)

127 minutes | MPAA rating: R

God doesn’t need more sheep, impassioned lay preacher Sam Childers tells his small-town Pennsylvania congregation. He needs wolves, men and women willing to fight — physically fight — against Satan.

The evocatively titled “Machine Gun Preacher” (it sounds like a Roger Corman exploitation effort) is very much about the wolf lurking inside the most pious of us.

The story of the real-life Childers — a ex-con who found Jesus, created a mission for orphaned children in the civil war-torn Sudan and became a sort of vengeful freedom fighter against the depredations of guerilla leader Joseph Kony and his notorious Lord’s Resistance Army — is simultaneously inspiring and deeply disturbing.

And in the hands of director Marc Forster (“Finding Neverland,” “Monster’s Ball,” “Stranger than Fiction”) and star Gerard Butler (who redeems his recent history of gosh-awful rom-coms) it becomes one of the year’s most unusual and challenging films.

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