GMG - Las Vegas Weekly

March 6, 2014

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44 LASVEGASWEEKLY.COM MARCH 612, 2014 A& E | SCREEN It's a shame that Alfonso Cuarón is following up his Oscar for directing Gravity by co-creating and directing the irst episode of Believe, a hokey pseudo-spiritual serialized drama executive-produced by J.J. Abrams. The episode opens with one of Cuarón's trademark long tracking shots, but the impressive shot composition isn't matched by the vague, clunky storytelling. Believe focuses on a superpowered young girl (Johnny Sequoyah) who must be protected by one mysterious organization from the evil intentions of a dierent mysterious organization. Young Bo is annoyingly precocious and prone to cryptic pronouncements, and her love-hate dynamic with her reluctant protector (Jake McLaughlin) quickly grows tiresome. It's hard to invest in Believe's big mystery, but it's even harder to invest in the prospect that Bo will be helping emotionally damaged people each week. And since Cuarón's involvement going forward is likely to be minimal, there won't even be any striking visuals to compensate. –Josh Bell STOP BELIEVING The brilliant time-traveling dog Mr. Peabody and his adopted boy Sherman irst appeared in short bits on The Rocky and Bull- winkle Show cartoon in the late 1950s. They were rendered in simple line drawings for quick and cheap television, but with sharp, clever, gag-based writing—with humor that ranged from subtle to silly—and a talented voice cast. Now they have been stretched to feature length and updated with 3D computer animation. The prologue, a visit to Marie Antoinette, tips a hat to the original (including a delight- ful pun). Then the main story becomes a race to ix the space-time continuum, an at- tempt to prevent the evil Ms. Grunion (voiced by Allison Janney) from taking Sherman (Max Charles) away from Mr. Peabody (Ty Burrell), and a reconciliation between Sher- man and his blonde school bully, Penny (Ariel Winter). Director Rob Minko (The Lion King, Stuart Little) embraces cool key elements from the show and wraps them up in bombastic, fast-paced ilmmaking; it's slick and noisy, but leet-footed and funny. The real conundrum is the range of jokes, which start at snappy and funny—Patrick Warburton voices a hilarious Agamemnon—but veer toward the weirdly, marginally oensive. In the end, Mr. Peabody & Sherman mostly barks, and occasionally bites. –Jerey M. Anderson F I L M THE WAYBACK MACHINE Animated adaptation Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a bumpy ride How do you make a sequel to a movie whose entire point is that nearly all of the main charac- ters sacrificed their lives? In the case of 300: Rise of an Empire, sequel to Zack Snyder's 2007 surprise hit 300, you come up with an entirely new cast of charac- ters, inserting them into the in-between moments of the earlier story. While King Leonidas (Gerard Butler, seen only in clips from the first movie) and his Spartan army of 300 are busy nobly dying against the forces of Persian King Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro), Athenian leader Themistocles (bland Australian hunk Sullivan Stapleton) is fighting off the Persian invasion on another front, leading his city's fleet of ships against the superior might of the Persian navy. Santoro has a relatively small role, leaving the part of this movie's villain to Eva Green as Persian naval commander Artemisia, and her performance is the sole bright spot. While the movie's overall tone is excessive in a humorless, mind-numbing way, Green goes over the top with style, sneering through her lines while dressed like a goth/BDSM version of an ancient Persian. Her mid-film sex/fight scene with Themistocles is a bizarre highlight that Green carries entirely on her own. The rest of the movie is a lifeless imitation of Snyder's style from the first movie, with Israeli commercials director Noam Murro taking over as director (Snyder remains on board as producer and co-writer). Murro uses the same digital sets, limited color palette, slow-motion action shots and geysers of CGI blood, but instead of coming off as a bold (if over- bearing) new approach, it just ends up as a less exciting rehash of the earlier movie. So many scenes take place in the dark or under cloudy skies that it's often difficult to make out the murky action (especially in 3D). It doesn't help that the supporting characters are essentially interchangeable. The repetitive, punishing action is matched by the ear-splitting score by Junkie XL, and it all becomes exhausting very quick- ly. With 300, Snyder found a creative new way to beat his audience into submission; Rise of an Empire pounds away without any such inspiration. aaccc 300: RIS E OF AN EMPIRE Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Lena Headey. Directed by Noam Murro. Rated R. Opens Friday. F I L M FORGET SPARTA Rise of an Empire is a second-rate sequel to 300 BY JOSH BELL > BATTLE BORN Stapleton leads the attacking Athenians. T V aaacc MR . PEABODY & S HERMAN Voices of Ty Burrell, Max Charles, Allison Janney. Directed by Rob Minko. Rated PG. Opens Friday. aaccc BELIEVE Sundays, 9 p.m. (premieres March 10, 10 p.m.), NBC. 44_Screen 1_20140306_CB.indd 44 3/5/14 3:48 PM

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