Movie reviews: ‘Pinocchio’ and more


PINOCCHIO: 3 STARS

Tom Hanks as Geppetto in Disney’s ‘Pinnochio’. (Photo courtesy of Disney)

After introducing his Colonel Tom Parker character’s indeterminate intonations in ‘Elvis’, Tom Hanks is now switching to Italian, continuing his exploration of world accents with ‘Pinocchio’, a live-action CGI hybrid musical, now airing on Disney+.

Hanks is Geppetto, an Italian carpenter who carves a puppet named Pinocchio out of a block of white pine. The lonely old man treats the puppet like a son, and lo and behold, after wishing for a star, Pinocchio (voiced by Benjamin Evan Ainsworth), with a little help from the Blue Fairy (Cynthia Erivo), comes to life.

But is he a real boy? No. “To be truly real, he must pass a test,” said the Blue Fairy. “He must prove himself to be brave, truthful and selfless.”

To steer the puppet in the right direction, the Blue Fairy appoints Jiminy Cricket (voiced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) to be her moral guide. It is his job to teach the beginner right and wrong; be his conscience. “Conscience is that little voice that most people choose not to listen to,” he says. “And that’s what’s wrong with today.”

With good intentions and endless curiosity, the pair leave but are sidelined when Jiminy is imprisoned in a glass jar. Left to his own devices, Pinocchio experiences the vagaries of life like a puppet unleashed in the world. He first falls under the control of a cruel puppeteer named Stromboli (Giuseppe Battiston), meets Lampwick (Lewin Lloyd), a mischievous boy with an eye for trouble, and even gets eaten by a sperm whale called Monstro.

Pinocchio receives many lessons in life, but does he learn the most important lesson in life? “The most important part of being real is not what you’re made of,” said the Blue Fairy. “It’s about what’s in your heart.”

“Pinocchio,” directed by Robert Zemeckis, is a respectful retelling of the 1940 Disney animated classic. this version – but visually, Zemeckis is inspired by the classic style of Walt Disney Animation. From the puppet’s yellow hat, blue tie and red lederhosen, this Pinocchio is strictly traditional.

It’s a brightly colored adventure of an action adventure that, despite the advanced technology involved, feels old-fashioned – dare I say wooden – in its approach. Good messages about the importance of family and learning from your mistakes abound, peril is kept to a minimum for families and, like its title character, the film is just a tad naive.

Following in the footsteps of other Disney live-action remakes such as ‘Beauty and the Beast’, ‘The Lion King’ and ‘The Jungle Book’, the latest version of ‘Pinocchio’ adds new technology to the story , but no new ideas.

BARBARIAN: 3 ½ STARS

This image released by 20th Century Studios shows Georgina Campbell in a scene from “Barbarian.” (20th Century Studios via AP)

The macabre events of “Barbarian,” a new home rental horror movie now playing in theaters, are better publicity for a hotel stay than anything the Canadian Association of the hotel and lodging industry could have imagined.

The story begins with Tess (Georgina Campbell) pulling up to an Airbnb in Detroit’s run-down Brightmoor neighborhood. It turns out that the only house in the neighborhood without broken windows or a broken front door is lined up and Keith (Bill Skarsgård) is already settled. She booked on Airbnb, he booked on another site, the threads were crossed, but instead of sending her out in the rain to find another place to stay, he invites her in. You take the bed, he said, I’ll sleep in the carriage. She reluctantly agrees, seduced by his charm and seemingly kind vibes.

After the lights go out, strange things happen. At first it’s scary but explainable, like creaky old doors opening and closing on their own, but the next day when she goes to the basement to get some groceries, the house reveals a dark secret. .

Cut to Los Angeles today and the worst moment in the life of self-involved TV star AJ Gilbride (Justin Long). Accused of sexual impropriety by a co-star, he was fired from his show and exposed in The Hollywood Reporter. With his career in tatters and his bank account dry, he decides to sell assets, including an Airbnb property he owns in Brightmoor, Detroit. “I’m not here on vacation,” he told his attorney as he landed in Michigan. “I’m here for cash.”

As Tess and AJ’s story collides, “Barbarian” takes one final left turn, this time to Detroit, back to the Reagan years, with the home’s evil origin story looking innocent.

“Barbarian” is a daring thriller with a handful of solid scares. Director Zach Cregger zigzags and zags, trusting the audience to hang on to the mad rush. It’s worth the trip. The tense atmosphere of Tess and Keith’s story gives way to AJ’s #MeToo cautionary tale and grim origin story before throwing it all down the hopper to create a genre-breaking final third act. Nothing is out of place as the film tackles the worst of human nature, narcissism, murder and even incest. It’s a heady mix that should drive you to the edge of your seat.

“Barbarian” is one of the few recent horror movies that really keeps the viewer off balance throughout. You never know where the story is going, and this off-the-hook storytelling makes the scary story gripping. It’s a rollercoaster in which only one thing is clear: never rent an Airbnb built on top of a catacomb.

MEDIEVAL: 3 STARS

A scene from the film ‘Medieval.’ (Photo courtesy of Avenue Entertainment)

If “Game of Thrones” style beheadings are your thing, the 15th century “Medieval” set, now playing in theaters, might be for you.

Based on the debut of famed Hussite commander Jan Žižka of Trocnov (Ben Foster), “Medieval” is like an old-school superhero origin story. The story of Žižka is cinematic. He was a fearsome warrior, a hero who never lost a battle, so the story isn’t what bogs the film down, it’s the narrative.

Set in 1402, the film opens with the voice of Lord Boresh (Michael Caine). “Power, tyranny, violence; Europe is plunged into war, pestilence and famine.

In other words, “Yuck!” The Holy Roman Empire is in chaos after the death of its reigning emperor. To prevent King Sigismund of Hungary (Matthew Goode) from ascending the throne by force, Žižka is enlisted to kidnap Lady Katherine (Sophie Lowe), the French fiancée of Lord Rosenberg (Til Schweiger), a powerful ally of Sigismund.

In retaliation, France sends an army to recover it. As the heat rises on the battlefield, so does Katherine and Jan, who, when not busy wielding an ax to fight the corruption and greed of the ruling class, finds the time to fall in love.

From the title, “Medieval” has a generic feel. It’s gory and brutal – with the appropriate crispy SFX – when it needs to be, and features beautiful period detail, but the storytelling is stereotypical: “Game of Throne” Lite.

There are some interesting elements, especially regarding the warrior’s religious beliefs and political leanings, but the Foster feels misplaced. His trademark intensity is lacking, which is disconcerting given the amplified nature of the battle footage.

“Medieval” is ruthless. The action scenes are absolutely brutal, featuring the kind of violence usually reserved for gory horror movies. The political plot is convoluted, and for a film that aims to pay homage to a real-life hero, inaccurate. It gets the tone of the era correct. The reaction from rebellious locals, worn down by years of high taxes, seems genuine, but Boresh, for example, the catalyst for much of the action, has been cut out entirely. It feels like the story was manipulated to fit the story director Petr Jakl wanted to tell, rather than shaping the story around the story.

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