This week there are a myriad of releases. We’ve got a Sherlock Holmes meets horror film in The Raven, Jason Statham kicking ass in Safe, a nice comedy from the creators of Forgetting Sarah Marshall in the Five-Year Engagement and a new claymation from the creators of Wallace and Gromit in The Pirates!The Raven
The subject matter screams out for cleverness and depth, the sort of mind-bending twists and satisfying darkness that Poe himself would love. It finds them only in small doses.
Director James McTeigue (“V for Vendetta”) has no feel for humor or terror, making what could have been a witty pastiche into another cheesy slice-and-dice horror flick.
But in the skilled hands of Cusack—who recites quite a bit of Poe’s poetry — and director John McTeigue (“V for Vendetta’’), it’s good pulpy fun, with eye catching period trimmings, and Hungarian locations standing in ably for 19th century Maryland.
Verdict: Skip It Safe
But then Edgar Allan Poe walks into a bar and starts talking, and we immediately understand why Cusack is not known for playing men who lived before 1984.
And thus a movie which opens with teasing echoes of Unforgiven or The Bourne Identity settles for being just another cookie-cutter star vehicle with almost no moral center or emotional depth.
Yeah, “Safe” is a long way from perfect. But rented, in a few months, it’ll go great with a six-pack and a hold-the-anchovies special.
This whip-smart, brutally funny and gleefully nasty film is one of the year’s best surprises.
Verdict: Wait for DVD Five-Year Engagement
Now, if only someone would offer this actor a project worthy of the full range of his talent.
Instead, what we have here is a wistful, somewhat overextended but occasionally sweet comedy about a couple that can’t – in more ways than one – quite get it together.
But though it’s occasionally funny and poignant, this latest shambling quasi-relationship comedy from the House of Apatow feels more like the raw feed than the final edit, and seems to run as long as the time span promised in the title.
“The Five-Year Engagement” doesn’t always work — some of the supporting characters’ storylines feel clipped, and the improvised bits could afford to be tightened — but the trip to the altar pays off.
Verdict: See it with your significant other. The Pirates! Band of Misfits
For the most part, “The Five-Year Engagement” has charm and emotion.
While there are a few pockets of humor that target the adults in the audience a little too specifically — a slightly too-predictable Oscar parody at the Pirate of the Year awards, for instance — for the most part, Pirates succeeds at maintaining equal appeal for both young and old.
It’s hard not to be charmed by the absurd antics of the bumbling buccaneers.
The pleasures we expect from an Aardman film are all here, including humor that manages to be both wild and understated.
Verdict: Go see it.
The movie is like a pirate without a parrot, Darwin without Natural Selection, Wallace without Gromit.