Charles Leavitt

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Warcraft Review

OK

Based on the iconic strategy game, this fantasy battle epic will appeal mainly to either the gamers themselves or audiences that love wildly detailed fantasy worlds. Everyone else will probably feel a bit lost when faced with the stream of confusing names, spells and magical phenomena that fill every scene. It looks terrific, and is directed with plenty of energy and personality. But it feels both overcrowded and superficial.

With their home world Draenor dying, the orcs need to travel through a portal to the human realm Azeroth to find more life force to steal. One orc chieftan, Durotan (Toby Kebbell), is having doubts about this murderous plan, and thinks peace with humans might be a better option. His rival chief Blackhand (Clancy Brown) and the cackling orc shaman Gul-dan (Daniel Wu) disagree, and set a massacre in motion. Preparing for the attack, human King Llane (Dominic Cooper) turns for help to his top knight Lothar (Travis Fimmel), sorcerer Medivh (Ben Foster) and apprentice wizard Khadgar (Ben Schnetzer). Then they meet outcast half-caste Garona (Paula Patton), and she offers another way to take on the invaders.

For the uninitiated, the elaborate mythology is so detailed that it blurs together into something rather incomprehensible. Director Duncan Jones doesn't have time to explain everything, so he charges ahead and just lets the dialogue overflow with references that may or may not be needed to work out what's happening. The film leaps from one strikingly staged battle to another, all cleverly designed to mix digital animation with gothic costumes. It looks pretty amazing in 3D, but the only characters who emerge with any depth are Durotan and Garona, nicely played by Kebbell and Patton under mounds of effects, makeup, fur and teeth.

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In The Heart Of The Sea Review

Excellent

With a huge budget and a relatively small story, this is an intriguingly offbeat blockbuster that might struggle to find an audience. Basically, it's aimed at fans of more thoughtful, personal stories of tenacity and survival, but it's shot with a massive special effects budget that sometimes seems to swamp the drama. Still, it's involving and moving. And it's also fascinatingly based on the true events that inspired Moby Dick.

The story is framed in 1850 as novelist Herman Melville (Ben Whishaw) visits an ageing sailor named Tom (Brendan Gleeson) to quiz him about a momentous event in his past that he has never spoken of. Flash back to 1820 Nantucket, and Tom (Tom Holland) is a rookie crew member on the whaling ship Essex, working under the posh, privileged Captain George (Benjamin Walker) and his able but low-class first mate Owen (Chris Hemsworth). As these these two leaders clash against each other, the ship sails off for what will be a very long journey. Eventually they head into the Pacific in search of a mythical pod of whales. But when they find it, they run afoul of a gigantic white whale that takes their arrival personally, sinking their ship and pursuing the survivors in their lifeboats.

All of this is staged as an epic battle between humanity and nature, with layers of interest in the way these men strain to survive against unimaginable odds. It's a riveting story, beautifully shot and rendered with immersive effects. And the cast members create complex characters who are profoundly changed by their experience. Not only is there mammoth action, but there's plenty of barbed interaction and even some strongly emotional moments that bring the themes home to a modern audience. Sometimes this aspect feels a bit corny, as clearly whalers at the time wouldn't feel remorse about killing one of these majestic creatures. But we would.

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Charles Leavitt - New York Premiere of "In The Heart of The Sea" held at Jazz at Lincoln Center - Arrivals - New York, New York, United States - Monday 7th December 2015

Charles Leavitt

The Express Review


Good
Ernie Davis made the most of his too-brief life.

Football came naturally to the Pennsylvania native, and it was on the gridiron where he cemented his identity. A gifted running back, Davis was recruited by the great Jim Brown to play for coach Ben Schwartzwalder at Syracuse University. While an Orangeman, Davis earned MVP honors at the Cotton Bowl in 1960 and the Liberty Bowl in '61. Later that year, Davis became the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy. The Washington Redskins used their first pick in the 1962 draft on Davis (though the team immediately traded him to the Cleveland Browns). But in 1963, before playing a single down in the National Football League, Davis died of leukemia at the age of 23.

Continue reading: The Express Review

Blood Diamond Review


Excellent
Blood Diamond has too many politics to be an action movie, too little hanky panky to be a romantic drama, and too many chase scenes to be real social activism. It's action drama against the backdrop of political turmoil -- in this case, Sierra Leone in 1999 -- where it is tricky to come off as neither tritely do-gooder nor exploitative. In this case, the effort is surprisingly successful.

Djimon Hounsou plays Solomon Vendy, a fisherman who just wants a better life for his son. But when the rebels come, he is unwillingly thrust into the midst of the violence -- his family is scattered, he is captured, their village is decimated. He is working the diamond mines at gunpoint when he catches, and hides, an epic stone -- huge, flawless, and slightly pink.

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K-PAX Review


Good
It would be an exaggeration to say that there are no original ideas anymore, that every movie fits some formula we've seen before. But, ya know, the claim isn't that far off the mark, and if the shoe fits...

So the genre we're talking about in the case of K-PAX: A crazy man thinks he's an alien (a psychic, a king, etc.). The obvious question: Which is he: crazy, or an alien, or both? (A crazy alien, now that would be a fun twist on the whole genre wouldn't it?)

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The Mighty Review


Very Good
Sentimental and mushy, yet heartwarming despite your best efforts to the contrary, The Mighty was termed by Sharon Stone as her proudest moment of 1998. Never mind she has about 5 minutes of screen time. Gillian Anderson's hooker is the real gem of the movie, which tells the tale of a friendship between a dim hulk of a boy and a crippled, yet brainy kid. As improbable as any film I've seen, but at least not awful to watch.
Charles Leavitt

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Benedict Cumberbatch Joins David Gilmour Onstage For 'Comfortably Numb'

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Charles Leavitt Movies

Warcraft Movie Review

Warcraft Movie Review

Based on the iconic strategy game, this fantasy battle epic will appeal mainly to either...

In the Heart of the Sea Movie Review

In the Heart of the Sea Movie Review

With a huge budget and a relatively small story, this is an intriguingly offbeat blockbuster...

The Express Movie Review

The Express Movie Review

Ernie Davis made the most of his too-brief life.Football came naturally to the Pennsylvania native,...

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Blood Diamond Movie Review

Blood Diamond Movie Review

Blood Diamond has too many politics to be an action movie, too little hanky panky...

K-PAX Movie Review

K-PAX Movie Review

It would be an exaggeration to say that there are no original ideas anymore, that...

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