June 20, 2013
Written by Mark Schumann, Father of Three
Thursday, 24 May 2012 14:42
Each week, the Reel Dad checks the nutritional value of a movie — new or classic — to help families choose what to watch. This week our family movie critic takes a look at some recent releases on DVD that you may have missed in the theaters.
Three-day weekends can be a great time to check out the latest on DVD. Following the parades and barbecues, top off the holiday with a movie. Check out these new offerings.
Mission Impossible 3: A Surprising Treat
No one expected much from this third installment of the popular movie series when it opened at the end of the year.
Tom Cruise, after stumbling in disappointing films, seemed to have seen better days at the box office, and the content of the original television series and films had been imitated in other offerings. But Cruise survives to enjoy another moment at the top in an entertaining action film that keeps our interest despite its longer-than-needed running time.
Once again, Cruise is the mysterious Ethan Hunt, the man with a past, who devotes his life to solving cases of international espionage. The mature Cruise displays the energetic magnetism that initially propelled him to stardom in a tailor-made vehicle designed to remind us why we liked him in the first place. While the plot is predictable, the strong visual style of director Brad Bird makes it all look fresher than it actually is. Oscar nominee Jeremy Renner shines in a supporting performance of surprising depth.
Enjoy the film for what it is no matter how many times you have seen this before.
(133 minutes, Rated PG-13)
The Descendants: A Meaningful Journey
As the awards season for 2011 began, this touching story of a family’s grief seemed poised to be named the year’s best film. But its merits were overshadowed by the buzz of The Artist and writer/director Alexander Payne had to settle for an Oscar for Best Screenplay.
The film deserved more. As we look back at the race, this film’s authentic emotional depth will be remembered far longer than the creative indulgence of The Artist. And while Jean Dujardin was a charming winner of the Best Actor award, few performances of the year compete with the brave work that George Clooney brings to his role as a father trying to hold his family together during a family tragedy.
What makes The Descendants memorable is how Payne creates such realistic family dynamics. The children actually talk and act like children, their moments with Clooney are spontaneous and real, and Beau Bridges brings a raw authenticity to his brief role as a family member who looks out for himself before supporting others.
If you missed it in the theater, savor the family relationships Payne so carefully develops.
(115 minutes, Rated R)
Hugo: A Scorcese Masterpiece
With all the hype over the visual potential of 3-D film, it took a master of cinema to teach us what this break in technology can actually deliver.
While the DVD version of Hugo renders a two-dimensional view, the visual magic that Martin Scorcese brings to this story of a boy living in a French railway station survives the transition. The master director uses the camera in inventive ways to make us feel we are inside this dazzling location as well as the mind and heart of a struggling child. Along the way Scorcese teaches us about the birth of cinema as he stretches what the camera can now do.
Unfortunately, audiences stayed away from Hugo; perhaps the film was easy to overlook in a movie marketplace crowded with louder films. That’s disappointing. The quiet integrity of the story, and the visual excitement of Scorcese’s work, make this one for a family to savor. No matter if you are familiar with the story, Hugo is a treasure to enjoy.
If you are looking for a family film for the holiday weekend, check out this special movie.
(126 minutes, Rated PG)
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