New in theatres this week:
- Brad Pitt plays an army sargeant in Fury – a World War II drama starring Shia LaBeouf, Michael Pena, and Logan Lerman.
- Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, and Naomi Watts star in St. Vincent.
- Diego Luna, Zoe Saldana, and Channing Tatum lend their voices to Jorge R. Gutierrez’s animated film The Book of Life.
Early reviews have been mostly positive for the film, which obviously carries a well-known cast and returns Pitt to a familiar setting – with him leading an American troupe against Nazis. But perhaps it’s too familiar.
Writing on the late Roger Ebert’s website, reviewer Peter Sobczynski says viewers will “will no doubt immediately compare the new WWII epic Fury to Quentin Tarantino’s brilliant Inglourious Basterds, which had Pitt leading a Jewish-American task force into the German war zone, but says the film is actually closer in tone and tome to The Dirty Dozen… with the blood and guts of Saving Private Ryan.
“It may sound like an interesting approach for a modern war film, but it doesn’t take long to realize that writer-director David Ayer has spent more time adding flesh to his battlefield sequence than he has in fleshing out the screenplay,” writes Sobczynski.
“The end result, while technically impressive, is a dramatically bloodless affair, despite the gallons of gore on display.”
RogerEbert.com gave the film just two out of four stars, but it got a slightly bumped rating on the Toronto Star‘s website – 2.5 out of four.
“Battlefield reality and macho myth messily collide in David Ayer’s Fury, a World War II drama that looks like a history lesson but unloads more like a comic book,” writes well-known critic Peter Howell. “A testosterone tinderbox like this is red meat for writer/director Ayer, who has strayed far afield from the L.A. police dramas he’s best known for, among them Training Day (writer only), Harsh Times and End of Watch.
“Few can match Ayer’s gift for authentically gritty dialogue, which he doesn’t dilute with a surfeit of gallows humour, even though a laugh or two might be appreciated.”
But Mike Scott, reviewer with New Orleans’ Times-Picayune, gave the film four-out-of-five stars, inline with the 76% approval rating Fury currently carries on Rotten Tomatoes.
“It is muscular and intense stuff, as writer-director David Ayer puts an emphasis on capturing a sense of life on the gritty, emotionally turbulent front lines of history,” Scott writes (NOLA.com).
“… in addition to dripping with mud, blood and testosterone, it also drips with credibility. Here’s a film that does for tank warfare what Das Boot did for submarines, or for what Saving Private Ryan did for D-Day.
“Earlier this year, when the World War II drama The Monuments Men landed, I wasn’t the only one complaining that it’s been awhile since we’ve gotten a good World War II film.
“With the arrival of Ayer and Pitt’s Fury, we can stop complaining.”
Most will go see this film – or not go see it, but want to – because of the clip released a couple weeks ago that shows star Bill Murray sitting outside his characters’ front door with his headphones in, sort of using a hose while he sings ‘Shelter From the Storm’ by Bob Dylan.
It was the perfect storm of hipster obsession – the cult figure Murray, who’s become as popular as an Internet meme and goofy, aloof persona as he is for his actual films, breathing life once again into another of Dylan’s poetic, folk ballads.
The actual film – which also stars Melissa McCarthy and Naomi Watts – has earned a pre-release rating of 73% on Rotten Tomatoes. Murray plays the aged, gruff of neighbour to McCarthy who strikes up a friendship with her 10-year-old son, giving him a tour of his Bukowski-esque daily schedule – with stops at the horse track, a strip club and a dive bar.
“t’s a warmhearted, well-meaning film, but you wish the writing and directing were sharper, and that this “comedy” had a few more laughs,” writes the Seattle Times‘ Moira Macdonald.
“Murray, of course, makes it all work well enough. But it’s striking how one of his most compelling moments is a late one in which Vincent, on a lawn chair wearing headphones, haphazardly sings along with Bob Dylan while randomly squirting things with a hose. It’s a long sequence and you watch, fascinated, as Murray somehow makes it at once comedic, poignant and unexpected. “Murray with a Hose” as his next movie? I’d watch.”