Cineast Movie Reviews: ‘Oldboy,’ ‘Homefront,’ Disney’s ‘Frozen’

Josh Brolin stars in "Oldboy."
Josh Brolin stars in "Oldboy."

Thanksgiving weekend is the start of the holiday movie season, with Disney’s Frozen and action-thrillers Homefront and Oldboy leading the charge of new films hitting theaters this week. What are you going to go see?

Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen and Samuel L. Jackson star in Oldboy, directed by Spike Lee. In a change of pace for Lee, this film is in the mold of an action-thriller, with the characteristic themes of injustice and eventual revenge. Brolin plays an advertising executive who’s kidnapped in 1993 and held in solitary confinement for 20 years before being released. Both his kidnapping and release seem to lack any rhyme or reason. But now, as a free man, he’s determined to get answers. The movie is based on a Japanese comic, or manga, but differs in several important aspects from its source: fans of the comic will surely feel betrayed by the changes—the rest of us won’t know the difference.


Hollywood likes to portray quaint small-town USA as idyllic—clean, God-fearing, the way life ought to be—while painting the cities as crime-ridden and festering. So it comes as a breath of fresh air when a more realistic view makes it onto the screen. In Homefront, ex-DEA agent Phil Broker (Jason Statham) moves with his young daughter (Izabela Vidovic) to a picturesque little town to try to rebuild after the death of his wife. A nice house, lots of woods, horseback riding, Phil thinks he’s living in the Hollywood version of small-town life. Trouble is, this little town has got a big secret in the form of the meth-brewing maniac Gator (James Franco) and his legion of helpers and dependents, including his strung-out girlfriend Sheryl (Winona Ryder). They don’t like strangers much, and much less strangers who happen to be narcotics agents. Before long, Phil’s going toe-to-toe with Gator and fighting for his, and his daughter’s, very life.


Thanksgiving weekend often means a new animated film from Disney, and Frozen is this year’s model. For once not a Pixar co-production, Frozen has more of the look of the old-fashioned hand-drawn cartoons of Disney’s classic films—plus, it’s a musical—making it perhaps a return to the Disney renaissance of the ’80s and ’90s. The film tells the story of a young woman, Elsa who has the unfortunate power of turning things around her to ice, and who, finding herself ostracized, decides to plunge the kingdom of Arendelle into eternal winter. Her sister, Anna, decides to set off on a mission to find Elsa and convince her to unfreeze Arendelle. She’s accompanied by rugged mountain man Kristoff who commands a sleigh driven by a reindeer named Sven—details that suggest the whole thing is taking place in Norway. Frozen is being released in regular as well as 3D versions.

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