Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett | PG-13 |
Rather than tell the tale of the world’s favorite outlaw yet again, director Ridley Scott decided to delve into his origins-Robin before he became a hood. But Scott probably didn’t intend to accomplish that by remaking Braveheart. The story: English archer Robin Longstride steals the identity of a slain knight, only to be asked by the man’s family to keep up the ruse-even as he falls for the widow, 13th-century proto-feminist Marion (Blanchett). This is the movie at its best, with Crowe and Blanchett circling each other like Tracy and Hepburn. Pity that they have to fight for attention with a thicket of palace intrigue as feckless King John (Oscar Isaac) takes the throne. Though Eileen Atkins and William Hurt are terrific as royal insiders, the politics get so heavy-with the nobles demanding rights, the king crushing revolt and the people idolizing Robin-that the movie reminds us all too much of a certain blue-faced Scot. A tad more levity and romance would’ve hit the target.
Letters to Juliet
Amanda Seyfried, Vanessa Redgrave, Gael Garcia Bernal | PG |
Aspiring writer Sophie (Seyfried) is intrigued by notes written by the lovelorn to Shakespeare’s Juliet. When she finds a 50-year-old letter from Claire (Redgrave), she senses a story-especially once Claire arrives in Italy with her stiff grandson (Christopher Egan) to find her lost love, Lorenzo. Their quest, meeting dozens of Lorenzos, is funny, sweet and captivating. Sure, it’s also cheesy and predictable, but everyone from Redgrave to Sophie’s neglectful fiance (Garcia Bernal) is so charming, all is (almost) forgiven.
Queen Latifah, Common, Paula Patton | PG |
Women of color, over 30, or with jiggly bits rarely find themselves on movie screens-particularly if they’re all three. Which makes Wright a welcome rarity; a rom-com that addresses society’s disregard of such women while giving it the steel-toed kick it deserves. Latifah stars as Leslie, a physical therapist who falls for NBA player Scott (Common) when he hurts his knee and his gold-digger fiancee (Patton) walks out. Their romance is well-earned, with Latifah shining and Common gaining facility as an actor scene by scene. Wright isn’t perfect, but Leslie’s rise is so joyous, who cares?