KANSAS CITY, MO —
1) THE GREAT GATSBY (PG-13)
Baz Lurhman’s extravagant, over-the-top, downright operatic interpretation of the classic novel “The Great Gatsby” comes tantalizing close to working…but isn’t completely successful.
The characters and important themes from F. Scott’s Fitzgerald’s famous work have been pummeled into submission by the cinematic excesses of filmmaker Baz Lurhman.
Leonardo DiCaprio is terrific and the movie has individual scenes that certainly hit the mark. But Lurhman’s “Great Gatsby” is guilty of sucking out the heartbreak and soul of the story, replacing it with razzle-dazzle visuals and audio overkill.
While it has a certain gaudy entertainment value, this new rendition winds up being as shallow as Gatsby’s courtyard water fountain.
Shawn disagrees, however. He calls “The Great Gatsby, “A cinematic tour de force that completely sucks you in and takes you on a different kind of ride than usual. It’s a clever retelling that uses cinematic tricks, dope visuals and contemporary music to enhance this classic story. It’s the best and most daring movie of the year so far.”
I can’t agree.
RUSS: 3 Popcorn Bags
SHAWN: 5 Popcorn Bags
2) PAIN & GAIN (R)
For me and for many viewers, there will be more pain than gain from the grisly and violent comedy, “Pain & Gain.” Michael Bay’s decadent farce wants desperately to be the next “Fargo.”
Mark Wahlberg and Duane “The Rock” Johnson head a terrific cast in this true story about a crime ring led by bodybuilders who are dumber than their dumbbells.
Bay, the man behind the “Transformers” franchise, employs his usual camera tricks and slow-mo gimmickry, and the resulting movie is overblown and overlong. Bay’s stylistic choices overshadow the effort of the strong acting ensemble.
Shawn says, “Michael Bay’s attempt at being Martin Scorsese is a mixed bag. The story is so over the top that it doesn’t need Mr. Bay’s over the top tendencies. But that’s what you get for better or worse.”
RUSS: 2 Popcorn Bags
SHAWN: 3 Popcorn Bags
3) THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST (R)
RUSS: With the intriguing source material and filmmaking talent behind the “The Reluctant Fundamentalist,” it should have hit the bull’s eye. As is, Mira Niar’s adaptation of Mohsin Hamid’s bestselling novel is only a modestly successful political character study.
Riz Ahmed plays a Pakistani man with a successful Wall Street career. The way he’s treated after 9/11 changes his outlook on America, leading him back to his homeland and into unwanted political intrigue. The talented supporting cast includes Kate Hudson, Liev Schreiber and Keifer Sutherland.
While involving, “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” is uneven and never quite reaches its potential as a riveting thriller.
RUSS: 3 Popcorn Bags