Sunday Short Reviews

Every Sunday, Gill delves into his archive of over 800 movie reviews and randomly selects three for your enjoyment! Here are this week’s…

Robot and Frank
This bittersweet film is a bit uneven, but the titular relationship that rests at the core of the film makes it worthwhile. In the not-too-distant future, retired cat burglar Frank (Frank Langella) is struggling with Alzheimer’s disease. His two children (James Marsden and Liv Tyler) decide to buy him a robot butler (voiced by Peter Sarsgaard) to help him with his daily routine and tend to him as he tries to cope with his mind deteriorating. But Frank longs for the glory days of robbery and soon starts training the robot to pull minor capers, starting with the theft of a valuable book from the local library (the curator of which is played by Susan Sarandon). As I said before, the film is uneven in that several of the supporting characters are written and acted as far too cartoonish or stereotypical, and that kind of broke the believability of the movie for me. However, Langella’s performance is terrific, and the comraderie between him and the robot feels genuine. All in all, it’s an above average movie.
3.5 out of 5

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters
I knew this movie was going to be utter crap, but I watched it anyway, and…it was utter crap, but at least it wasn’t boring. Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters is a disjointed mess of ideas, and the filmmakers never commit to any of them. In what seems like a period setting, children are being kidnapped by witches and so Hansel and Gretel turn up to put a stop to it. Hansel and Gretel, however, stick out like sore thumbs because they speak in modern language, wield anachronistic weaponry, and, well, don’t actually seem to be very good at their jobs. This wouldn’t be so bad if their anachronisms applied to the whole world of the film, but because they don’t, I was left scratching my head. Trying to overlook that little hitch, I kept watching, only to realize that the movie was really about Hansel, and Gretel was just Daphne to his Fred: the damsel in distress constantly in need of saving. The final nail in the coffin for this movie was the fact that the entire plot was lifted from The Brothers Grimm – another movie that I was wholly unimpressed by – and both movies even share an actor in Peter Stormare. The only reason to watch Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters is the troll named Edward (which I really hope is a jab at Twilight), who has one kickass fight scene but is overall underutilized. Watch Van Helsing instead, if you really want this kind of fare. Not even 3D could save this mess.
1.5 out of 5

Hitchcock is basically my definition of a four star movie. The performances are great all around, with Anthony Hopkins doing a good job as Hitch and Helen Mirren being her usual awesome self as his wife Alma. James D’Arcy makes an inspired choice to play Tony Perkins and Michael Stuhlbarg is a welcome addition to any cast, but for me the real standout was actually character actor Michael Wincott as Ed Gein. The film chronicles Hitchcock’s fight to make Psycho, and for a movie nerd like me it was a real treat to get a fictionalized, behind-the-scenes peek at the creation of one of cinema’s most influential horror movies. There are also a number of choice Hitchcock quotes to keep your smiling, and overall I had a great time watching this movie. I can’t say as any one aspect was outstanding, which is why I’m not giving it a higher rating, but “solid” is a perfect word to describe it. It’s not overlong or bloated, it will both make you laugh and tug at your heartstrings, and it’s a great look at one of movie history’s greatest suspense directors.
4 out of 5

See you next Sunday for three more thrilling short reviews!

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