Jack Ryan Still Not On His A Game

Hollywood is obsessed with repeating itself. Chris Pine helped kick off a new reboot? Let’s put him in another one! Let’s take a franchise ruined by Ben Affleck and hope that Pine can do his magic again. This results in a very mediocre espionage movie.
Jack Ryan. That name should be familiar with to most. He is the star of a string of novels by Tom Clancy many which have been made into movie. Jack Ryan come to the big screen in Alec Baldwin’s shoes, but hit his peak with Harrison Ford. Then in 2002 Affleck stared in a reboot that removed itself from the chronological events in the first movies. This movie failed to bring Jack Ryan back.
jack-ryan-shadow-chris-pine-kevin-costner-bench-600-370Pine’s version in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit brings Ryan into our generation. He joined the military after 9-11 and was injured in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan which ended his military career. Ryan is brought into the CIA by Thomas Harper, played by Kevin Costner who is viscously trying to reboot his career. Ryan starts off in office work, tracing accounting and national security threats with in big money. When he stumbles across a grand scheme involving Russia, Ryan must go out to the field and see if he still has what it takes.
This whole movie is confusing. I am curious as why Russia was once again chosen as the villains in this piece when they are updating Ryan’s story. Russia figures prominently in earlier works especially during those during the Cold War. Are they just going from this or trying to make us see that Russia is still a valid threat while we are concerned with the Middle East and North Korea? Or is it simply, just an un-thought-out plot idea?
Then of course is the actual threat to the American government that only someone with a PhD in economics can understand and decode. When Harper says dumb it down, the script should have dumbed it down. Somehow, Russia is selling off American money and coordinating a terrorist attack so the American dollars sinks so low the Great Depression will look like drop in the bucket. Not that I understood any of that, but I nodded my head and went with it. There are various other things along the line, but let’s look at other aspects of the movie.jack-ryan-shadow-recruit
Ryan fiancée Cathy Muller is played by Keira Knightley with a horrible American accent. Once again, Knightly plays a rather bitchy female with no empowerment that seems to have become her staple character. Not all of the horribleness of this character is her fault though; she is written horribly and in a very ant-feminist way. She thinks Ryan is cheating on her throughout the movie though he is begging her to marry him so he could confide everything to her. Cathy is moody, week, and unrealistic.
Pine does attribute something positive to the movie. Ryan is given some very complex emotions. While these do not last long, Pine actually makes the audience feel how upset Ryan is with having to kill someone. His Ryan is not all swaggers. This is probably his best role to date.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit leaves a lot to be desired. Kenneth Branagh dos double duty playing the villain and directing the film. I think it may have gone better, if he had chosen one role. But I do have to admit Jack Ryan looks really good up on that IMAX screen.

Fondly Remembering our Childhood Guardians

The Rise of the Guardians, PG

The holidays are saturated with children’s movies. There are always three kinds of movies; the ones kids only enjoy, the ones with double entendre that make adults smirk, and the emotional bonding tales that children and adults both love. The last categories are the hardest to create. Disney Pixar can make these films without adult jokes and but bringing in adults with delightful humor. The Rise of The Guardians by DreamWorks lives up to the standard set by Pixar.Rise-of-the-Guardians

This gorgeously animated movie is best of a set of children’s books by William Joyce.  He wrote these for his young daughter (who has since passed away), and they have inspired many many children. The movie version expands this audience sharing The Guardians of Childhood with today’s movie going generation.

In Rise of the Guardians, beloved characters such as Santa Clause, and the Toothfairy are in charge of spreading wonder and hope to the world’s children. But these aren’t the same generic character you have grown up with. North, or Santa, is tattooed with a Russian accent (played wonderfully by Alec Baldwin) while Bunny is the Australian Easter Bunny who is over six feet tall and takes no crap from anyone. Then there is Tooth the delicate toothfairy who saves the memory of children by saving their teeth.  Joining them is Sandy the silent sand man who is responsible for good dreams.  With this force of good, what could scare these guardians?

The Boogey Man! Pitch Black (played lovingly by Jude Law) is tired of being overlooked and unbelieved in. His goal is to squash hope and wonder and rule the world by fear. Pitch proves to be a tough match for the guardians, so Manny, the man in the moon, calls upon Jack Frost. This impish character cares for nothing but fun and has no recollections of his past. He has no desire to be a guardian and it is only through bribing him with his lost memories does he begin to work with them.

rise-of-the-guardians10Jack learns a lot about who he is, what he was, and what he was meant to be. Viewers watch the other characters grow as they interact with Jack and help him through his plight. But it’s more than warm fuzzies. Children learn how to battle the darkness and there is a lesson to be learned about belief and happiness. These fable like aspects make for the perfect family story. It is the humor spun in perfectly that makes it entertaining.  Seeing Bunny reduced to a cute cotton tailed bunny is one of the most entertaining moments in the film.

Between the lush 3-D (the translucent wings on the fairies can’t have been as gorgeous in the2-D) and beautiful animation, even the dark is more beautiful than scary. In fact, it keeps an illustrated feel throughout the movie making it seems like a children’s book actually come to life.

The Rise of the Guardians is rich in story, heavy on laughter, dazzling and there are lessons learned. This is a true mast piece in children’s entertainment.