On DVD & Blu-Ray: December 22, 2015

Pan is utterly forgettable. There is no reason for this re-imagined and retooled version to exist beyond Warner Bros. attempting to get in on the current trend of turning classic fairy tales and more specifically, classic animated Disney films, into some kind of live-action confection. What doesn't work here though is the fact the Peter Pan story has been told so many times before and given we've all likely seen at least two iterations of J.M. Barrie's story (even the kids this movie is targeting will have seen Disney's 1953 adventure countless times) there is nowhere for this film to go that doesn't feel like it's either retreading familiar ground or desperately stretching. Unfortunately, the latter is what director Joe Wright's (Atonement, Hanna) new film does as it options to go back to the beginning and tell us the now obligatory origin story that basically covers all the stuff that happens before all the good stuff happens. The real issue here though is in the script from writer Jason Fuchs who contributed to the last Ice Age film and is the sole screenwriter on the upcoming Wonder Woman feature (not instilling a lot of faith there). There is a lot going on here which only creates more and more issues for the film as it goes on, but the source of each of these issues seems to stem from the main issue of the base story never truly recognizing itself. Each scene is strewn together with no connecting strands, no substance and thus nothing for the next scene to build upon. It's as if Fuchs was figuring out the story for himself as he went along and once he was done, never bothered to go back and write a second draft. Once upon a time I would have killed to see Wright take on huge, fantastical material such as this, but in his first big-budget studio effort the director has delivered what couldn't be a more underwhelming and, as I said in the beginning, forgettable experience. Full review here. D

From the opening frames it is clear that Pawn Sacrifice looks to analyze and discuss the psychology of this young man who would become the worlds greatest chess player. From a screenplay written by Steven Knight (Locke) and directed by Ed Zwick (The Last Samurai, Blood Diamond) we are introduced first to an eight year-old Bobby Fischer (Aiden Lovecamp) in Brooklyn who is already being positioned by his Russian mother, Regina (Robin Weigert), to look out the windows for spies and people who might be on the trail of her cause. Apparently she is some type of activist as she's already had her son and daughter, Joan (Sophie NĂ©lisse of The Book Thief), rehearse what they are to say if someone asks them about her. It is an initial state of fear and suspicion that Bobby seems to never be able to shake. The fact he is to become the most famous chess player in the world, used as something of a pawn himself in the political dealings between the U.S. and the Soviet Union during the Cold War, only intensifies this paranoia that causes his mental health to fall apart faster than a watermelon in the hands of Gallagher. Of course, what has to be considered is how much this nurturing state and how much Fischer's love for chess both influenced his eventual mental state. By the time Fischer was twelve years-old (Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick) in 1955 he was already something of a prodigy, the U.S. chess champion as well as already beginning to push his mother, and almost everyone else, out of his life. The basis for who he would become was already there, but this inability to separate the game of chess from his identity and thus the the inability to look at the world any different than he would a chess board somewhat forced Fischer to succumb to the tone of the game and live his life in that timbre. Needless to say, this constant state of delusion becomes taxing on both Fischer and those around him, but dammit if it isn't fascinating to see unfold through the glass door. Full review here. B-

While I haven't seen War Room, director Alex Kendrick has admittedly become a stronger director over the course of his career thus far. Considering I could hardly stomach my way through the cheesiness of Facing the Giants it was a relief that a "real" actor in the form of Kirk Cameron starred in his follow-up, Fireproof, while his fourth feature, Courageous, finally saw Sony put some money behind their Christian-themed output and thus a rather handsome product was born. I imagine War Room preaches much of the same lessons as Kendrick's previous films albeit from a different angle, so I don't necessarily feel the need to see those same lessons once again, but nonetheless I'm sure it will do gangbuster sales with it's target audience.

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