Warner Brothers Pictures
Rated PG for PG for mature themes, mild epithets, action and violence
Orphan Abducted To Neverland In Overstimulating Peter Pan Prequel
Everyone’s familiar with Peter Pan, the much-beloved children’s classic revolving around the magical adventures of a little boy who can fly and won’t grow up. In fact, the fanciful character is so deeply woven into the cultural fabric that he has a psychological disorder, the Peter Pan syndrome, named after him, a pathology applied to people seemingly stuck in a state of suspended adolescence.
Created by Sir James Matthew Barrie, Peter Pan was first produced as a play in 1904 and adapted into an illustrated novel seven years thereafter. The enchanting fairy tale made its screen debut as a silent movie in 1924, with assorted remakes, sequels, spin-offs and animated versions being released over the ensuing generations.
Directed by Joe Wright (Anna Karenina), Pan, the latest incarnation, is a prequel very loosely based on the J.M. Barrie plotline. This special f/x spectacular is the brainchild of actor-turned-scriptwriter Jason Fuchs, who ostensibly felt free to speculate wildly about Peter Pan’s roots. The film stars Levi Miller as Peter, and features an impressive supporting cast including Hugh Jackman, Rooney Mara, Garrett Hedlund and Amanda Seyfried.
At the picture’s point of departure, we witness a newborn baby being very reluctantly deposited by his mother (Seyfried) on the doorstep of the Lambeth Home for Boys, an orphanage run by an order of nuns. Fast-forward a dozen years and we find Peter and his fellow foundlings sharing the misfortune of being under the thumb of a sadistic mother superior (Kathy Burke).
Furthermore, it’s the height of the Battle of Britain, and the Luftwaffe’s daily fire bombings of London during the Blitz have left the lads terribly traumatized. Obviously, Fuchs’ anachronistic screenplay takes a few liberties, such as in setting the story during World War II, well after the source material was already written.
Nevertheless, the tale makes an incredible leap from reality into fantasy the night a flying frigate swoops out of the sky and starts plucking the kids right out of their beds and up into the heavens. Curiously, the ship’s captain is not Hook (Hedlund), but Blackbeard (Jackman), the notorious British pirate who roamed the high seas in the early 18th century.
Unfortunately, Blackbeard is no savior but a kidnapper intent on enslaving the youngsters in Neverland, a lair located in another dimension. However, here, Hook happens to be a benign figure who befriends Peter, along with Indian princess Tiger Lily (Mara) and the ethereal fairy Tinker Bell.
At this juncture, the movie morphs into an overstimulating, kitchen sink extravaganza serving up everything from dazzling, CGI chase scenes to catchy song-and dance tunes (ala “Smells Like Teen Spirit”) to swashbuckling derring-do. A riveting roller coaster ride well-designed to enthrall tykes for two hours straight.
Very Good (3 stars)
Running time: 111 minutes
In My Father’s House
Rated R for profanity and ethnic slurs
Prodigal Parent Documentary Chronicles Grammy-Winning Rapper’s Reunion With Long-Lost Dad
Che “Rhymefest” Smith is among the handful of rappers who have actually managed to make it in the music industry. What’s even more remarkable is the fact that the Grammy-winning artist also overcame a challenging childhood, having been raised on the rough South Side of Chicago by a single mom who’d given birth to him while still in her early teens.
Despite his phenomenal success in the music business, one thing that nagged at Rhymefest was why he’d been abandoned by his father, Brian, a man he’d only seen a few times in his entire life, and not at all over the past two decades. He wondered whether his dad ever cared or thought about him? Or might he be dead?
Rhymefest’s curiosity was probably piqued because of the guilt he himself felt about having three out-of-wedlock offspring with baby-mamas he’d never committed to. He wanted to understand why he’d perpetuated the cycle of parental neglect, especially since fatherless kids represent 60% of youth suicides, 71% of juvenile incarcerations and 90% of homeless children.
So, first, he proceeded to buy the house that his father grew up in and moved in with his wife, Donnie. Then, after hearing rumors that Brian was a local hobo and an alcoholic, he started scouring the streets of the Windy City for him.
Yes, he did search for and get his dad into rehab right after their tearful reunion. But would the lush find the strength to keep his nose clean with the help of this new lease on life coming in the form of a job, an apartment, and a loving, supportive son?
That is the tension that tugs at your heart while watching In My Father’s House, a Prodigal Dad documentary co-directed by Ricki Stern and Anne Sundberg. The picture proves to be very compelling as a sociological examination of profound dysfunction, but it’s simultaneously a bitter disappointment for anyone expecting a miraculous, happy Hollywood ending.
Unfortunately, Rhymfest just can’t get no satisfaction from the father he’s craved and loved from afar for as long as he can remember. But at least he continues to flourish professionally, having recently co-written the 2015 Oscar-winning Best Song “Glory” with Common and John Legend for the film Selma.
The movie’s message, if any? If you’re a successful rap star, you might want to think twice before returning to the ghetto to track down the deadbeat dad you never knew. .
Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 93 minutes
OPENING THIS WEEK
For movies opening October 9, 2015
Steve Jobs (R for profanity) Michael Fassbender portrays the late Apple founder in this warts-and-all biopic spanning the critical period from 1984 to 1998 highlighting the Machiavellian CEO’s drive to gain a competitive edge in technological innovation. Cast includes Seth Rogen, Kate Winslet, Jeff Daniels, Katherine Waterston and Michael Stuhlbarg.
The Walk (PG for mature themes, peril, brief nudity, drug references, smoking and mild epithets) Historical drama, set in Manhattan in 1974, recreating daredevil Philippe Petit’s (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) high-wire walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. With Ben Kingsley, Charlotte Le Bon, Ben Schwartz and James Badge Dale.
Big Stone Gap (PG-13 for brief suggestive material) Romantic comedy, set in Appalachia in 1978, revolving around a shy and retiring spinster (Ashley Judd) who finds herself being courted by several suitors when a surprising secret about her long-lost father surfaces. Ensemble cast includes Whoopi Goldberg, Patrick Wilson, Jane Krakowski, John Benjamin Hickey and Jenna Elfman.
Breaking Through (Unrated) Coming-of-age drama about a YouTube dance sensation’s (Sophia Aguiar) attempt to balance sudden fame and her authentic identity before she loses everything she cares about. Co-starring Julie Warner, Jay Ellis and Robert Roldan.
A Faster Horse (Unrated) Reverential documentary chronicling America’s love affair with the Mustang, the crown jewel of the Ford Motor Company fleet, from its introduction in 1964 to its recent redesign earlier this year.
The Final Girls (PG-13 for profanity, drug use, violence, sexuality and crude humor) Horror comedy revolving around the grief-stricken daughter (Taissa Farmiga) of a recently-deceased scream queen (Malin Akerman) who is magically transported into her mom’s most memorable movie where she ends up on the run from a deranged maniac (Dan Norris) while having to fend off the unwanted advances of young alpha males with raging hormones. With Alia Shawkat, Alexander Ludwig and Nina Dobrev.
The Forbidden Room (Unrated) Undersea adventure about a lumberjack (Roy Dupuis) who mysteriously materializes aboard a submarine stuck on the bottom of the ocean with a cargo of unstable explosives. Featuring Charlotte Rampling, Geraldine Chaplin, Clara Furey, Mathieu Amalric and Udo Kier.
Knock Knock (R for nudity, profanity, disturbing violence and graphic sexuality) Home alone horror flick about a happily married man (Keanu Reeves) who comes to regret allowing a couple of stranded damsels-in-distress (Lorenza Izzo and Ana de Armas) enter the house while his wife (Ignacia Allamand) was away for the weekend. With Aaron Burns and Colleen Camp.
The Prime Ministers: Soldiers And Peacemakers (Unrated) Israeli documentary examining the legacies of Levi Eshkol, Golda Meir, Yitzhak Rabin, Menachem Begin and Shimon Peres administrations as seen through the eyes of Yehuda Avner who served in each of their administrations.
Reversion (Unrated) Sci-fi thriller about the daughter (Aja Naomi King) of a high-tech billionaire (Colm Feore) who starts wondering about the accuracy of her memories of her late mother after she’s kidnapped by a stranger (Jeanette Samano) with a hidden agenda. With Gary Dourdan, Amanda Plummer and Lela Rochon.
(T)error (Unrated) Whistleblower featuring a former FBI informant’s scathing indictment of the Bureau’s use of illegal surveillance and interrogation tactics during a counterterrorism sting operation.
Winter On Fire (Unrated) Ukraine documentary revisiting the events surrounding the 2013 revolution leading to the coup d’etat ousting President Viktor Yanukovich. (In Ukrainian, Russian and English with subtitles)