Tag Archives: Emma Watson

“The Circle”

LOUISA: 2 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

When I think about it, “The Circle” is an aptly titled wannabe thriller. The relevant subject of the dangers of Big Brother technology and living in the digital age does little except continuously run around in circles, ultimately going nowhere.

Emma Watson feels horribly miscast as Mae, an ambitious young woman who is hired to work for The Circle, the world’s most powerful tech-driven social media company. The office environment begins to feel like a crazed cult but as she gains the notice of head honcho Eamon (Tom Hanks) and Stenton (Patton Oswalt), it goes to her head and she willfully climbs the rungs to make it to the top. Teaming up with Ty (John Boyega, who is completely wasted in a nearly insignificant supporting role), they plot to take down the company from the very top.

The cast is stellar overall, with reliably solid performances from Watson and Hanks, and good supporting turns from Karen Gillan as Mae’s pill-popping, overworked friend Annie, and Bill Paxton and Glenne Headly as Mae’s parents. Ellar Coltrane, whom you may remember as the kid from “Boyhood,” looks like a deer in headlights as Mae’s childhood friend. His acting is so awful that I almost started laughing, but then I realized that this film was being played as a straight drama and not a satire.

The film touches lightly on the boundaries of ethics, the loss of human interaction in a tech savvy society, basic privacy and freedom, but it doesn’t go quite far enough to say anything truly meaningful or insightful. Instead, the movie quickly becomes a lifeless chore that is more of a bore than something smart or enjoyable. It switches tone in nearly every scene, stumbling and rambling its way in a desperate attempt to craft a cohesive message. It never succeeds.

This is one of the biggest letdowns so far this year.

“Beauty and the Beast”

LOUISA: 3 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

I understand that it’s next to impossible to avoid letting your nostalgia for the original 1991 animated Disney film “Beauty and the Beast” fool you into thinking this live action remake is fantastic. I get it. It is arguably one of the greatest animated films of all time with iconic characters, scenes and songs. So iconic, in fact, that I wish the Disney machine would’ve just left it well enough alone. This nearly shot-by-shot retelling may have its moments, but they are few and far between. The film amounts to little more than a mediocre cash grab that putters along, fueled by the good will from its audience.

The film is surprisingly poorly directed by Bill Condon. The big CGI animated scenes that should be true show stoppers (like the classic “Be Our Guest” dinner performance) are choppily edited and packed with so much visual noise that they are ugly and at times ungainly. The entire project reeks of desperation as everything in the movie looks and feels overdressed and hollow, from the choreography to the mediocre costumes. The animated Beast (Dan Stevens) looks fake and terrible in the way he talks and moves, and don’t get me started on the ghastly singing all around.

The cast is so perfect (I’ve been excited for months after the accomplished list of actors was announced) and I can’t believe they actually blew it. Something feels completely “off” about many of the performances here, especially from Kevin Kline (Maurice), Josh Gad (Lefou), and at times, Emma Watson (Belle). They look uncomfortable and confused, awkwardly delivering lines and sometimes even changing acting styles throughout the film. Watson and Stevens lack even an ounce of chemistry, which sorely hurts the entire project.

There’s the typical overacting from voice talent Emma Thompson (Mrs. Potts) and Stanley Tucci (Maestro Cadenza), and a really bad vocal turn from Ewan McGregor as everyone’s favorite candelabra, Lumiere. It’s not all rotten, thanks to Ian McKellen as Cogsworth the clock (he turns in an inspired voice performance) and a very funny, boisterous, and cartoonish Luke Evans who gives Gaston his due.

The film exhibits such loyalty to the source material that it often reeks of desperation in its blind insistence to mimic the original. Scenes are set up shot-by-shot and reenacted, and the love story now feels a bit dated for today’s sensibilities. With the new Disney trend of writing tough, I-don’t-need-a-man strong female characters (“Frozen,” “Moana“), this movie feels like someone is rewinding the time clock back to the early 90s, regressing to what now feels like an old-timey attitude towards men (those filthy beasts!) and women (if I stay long enough, maybe I’ll learn to love him!).

The runtime is over two hours and there is just far too much going on in this overstuffed, bloated, and disappointing film. It may remain true to the source material, but that alone doesn’t make it a good movie.