Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) sure knows how to set the
bar a notch or two higher, just to challenge himself. He follows up his
Academy Award winning film by diving headlong into an adaptation of a
beloved musical and pushes his all-star cast (featuring Hugh Jackman,
Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway) to record their vocal performances
Writer-director Paul Haggis goes the more conventional action-thriller route here as Russell Crowe and Elizabeth Banks play a married middle-class couple pursuing fugitive route after the wife is sentenced to a long prison term for the murder of her boss. Crowe is game, but Banks gets played by chess-master Haggis who is simply trying to keep too many pieces moving at once. Grade: D.
For as muddled as its medieval politics are, director Ridley Scott's cloud-covered history of Robin Longstride's path to outlaw legend soars whenever Cate Blanchett takes the screen as Maid Marion. But in an overworked effort at making Robin Hood a somber man with heavy emotional baggage about his father and an idealized sense of justice, Scott has drained all the fun out of a story that should at least have some amount of proletariat joy. Grade: C-plus.
Based on a politically charged BBC miniseries, 'State of Play' moves the action from the House of Parliament to Washington, D.C., where the suspicious death of a congressman's co-worker mistress underlines the desperate state of newspaper journalism in America. Russell Crowe, looking considerably older these days, plays Cal McAffrey, a veteran Washington Post-styled reporter with close ties to the congressman. Grade: C.
Throughout David Ignatius’ 2007 novel Body of Lies, you can feel the potential for creating something ... deeper. While the surface markings were those of an age-of-terrorism espionage thriller, there were also hints of Mystic River author Dennis Lehane: the portrayal of a world in which moral decision-making was virtually impossible and the best a soul could hope for was to make the least immoral decision.