Our capsule reviews for ‘50/50’, ‘IP Man: The Legend is Born’, ‘Machine Gun Preacher’, and ‘Tucker & Dale vs. Evil’
The following quotes were pulled from reviews written by AZ Weekly Entertainment Magazine’s Film Section contributors to present readers with a wider perspective about this weekend’s new releases.
At 27 years old, Joseph J. Airdo is a Walter Cronkite School of Journalism graduate with a degree in media analysis and criticism. Randy Montgomery, 34, works in media and marketing and holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling and Education. And, at 64 years old, Stan Robinson is a retired First Assistant Director with more than 22 years of experience in film and media production.
Read their full reviews of these and other movies exclusively online at knotmove.com, AZWeeklyMagazine.comand ScreenScene.org, respectively.
Diagnosed with malignant tumors up and down his spine, a young man (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) vows to beat his illness. Also starring Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick and Bryce Dallas Howard. (R – 99 minutes)
Joseph:“’50/50′ is seriously funny. However, the movie – which, by the way, tackles the topic of cancer – is more than just that. It is also respectably realistic, powerfully poignant and uniquely uplifting. Director Jonathan Levine’s flick – which is loosely, based on screenwriter Will Reiser’s real-life experiences – carefully balances comedy and tragedy. Most notably, though, ’50/50′ finally gives actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt an opportunity to demonstrate that he is a man of tremendous talent. In fact, Gordon-Levitt is so talented that even his costar Seth Rogen seems slightly less annoying than usual.” Grade: B
Randy:“Having gone through four cancer battles with my mother, the realities of ‘50/50’ hit close to home. While I appreciate the story and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s fine and fairly accurate portrayal of a cancer patient, I could not help but cringe every time Seth Rogen takes to the screen. His obnoxious (much needed) comedic relief overpowers each scene and downplays Gordon-Levitt’s character. Had Rogen simply added a few chuckles here and there, this would have been a much better film.” Grade: C-
Stan:“Everyone should have a friend as ‘off-the-wall’ as Seth Rogen’s character who hangs in with us through thick and thin. And any of us who has lost a loved one to cancer, as I did in 2004 with my mother’s passing, screenplay writer Will Reiser reminds us that its those moments of strength and courage we should have as models to fight insurmountable odds, whether we’re the victim, or, the friend…” Grade: B
‘IP Man: The Legend is Born’
When Ip Man (Yu-Hang To) returns to his hometown years later to reunite with his peers, he’s arrested as the prime suspect in a murder. In Chinese with English Subtitles. Playing exclusively at UltraStar Scottsdale Pavilions and UltraStar Surprise Pointe. (100 minutes)
Stan: “This third installment in the award winning series, presents the prequel element of his rise to legendary status and the journey of Ip Man (Yu-Hang To) from his humble beginnings as a young boy through the arduous and often debilitating training in the martial arts form of Wing Chun which dates back to the early 1800s and the early style of the late famous actor/martial artist Bruce Lee with historical footage of Chinese traditions, interwoven with the dramatic elements of the contemporary story as he faces his biggest challenge, clearing his name and maintaining his family honor.” Grade: B
‘Machine Gun Preacher’
Sam Childers (Gerard Butler), a former biker, travels to Africa to establish an orphanage for young victims of war. Playing exclusively at Harkins Camelview 5. (R – 127 minutes)
Joseph:“Director Marc Forster’s drama ‘Machine Gun Preacher’ powerfully portrays the heart of the ultimate spiritual struggle – even if writer Jason Keller’s screenplay is a bit weak around the edges. Granted, the personal transformations that occur in ‘Machine Gun Preacher’ – which is based on the true tale of a drug-dealing biker who finds God and becomes a crusader for hundreds of Sudanese children – are a bit unfounded and abrupt. However, its authentic account of faith’s inherent challenges and a well-rounded performance from star Gerard Butler more than make up for the movie’s shortcomings.” Grade: B
Stan:“As our professor in film school often reminded us, if a movie can entertain, enlighten, or inform the viewer to elicit an emotional response, it has achieved its initial purpose. ‘Machine Gun Preacher’ does just that as it adds humanity to the news sound bites we often see relative to victims of wars, while reinforcing that ‘one person can make a difference’, starting with oneself. Gerard Butler excels as we literally feel the metamorphosis of Sam Childers as I reflected on my own experiences in Viet-Nam and the impact of its citizens so many years ago…” Grade: B
‘Tucker & Dale vs. Evil’
Two scruffy pals’ (Tyler Labine and Alan Tudyk) backwoods vacation takes a bloody turn when ignorant college students mistake them for a pair of murderous hillbillies. Playing exclusively at Harkins Valley Art. (R – 89 minutes)
Joseph:“Though slightly disappointing due to more than a year of bated anticipation of its release ‘Tucker & Dale vs. Evil’ is an exceptionally side-splitting comedy. That is to say that while writer/director Eli Craig’s flick is far from perfect,‘Tucker & Dale vs. Evil’ remains an extraordinarily unique motion picture with one wicked sense of humor. Think of the movie as ‘Three’s Company’s’ evil twin as it brilliantly taps into the dark side of misunderstandings, slaying the audience with hysterics every step of the way.” Grade: C