The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


All the Money in the World

Ridley Scott's All the Money in the World is based on the true story of one of the most notorious kidnappings in history. Christopher Plummer plays J.P. Getty, the oil magnate who was not only the richest man in the world, but also the richest man who ever lived. When his teenage grandson is kidnapped in Rome, he refuses to pay the ransom, telling the press that, if he did, people would start snatching his family members left and right. Michelle Williams is Gail Harris, the boy's mother and Getty's former daughter-in-law. She repeatedly begs him to give her the money, since she's broke. Mark Wahlberg co-stars as Fletcher Chase, a former government agent who's supposed to keep her away from Getty, yet ends up helping her.

There's been a lot of talk about how Kevin Spacey was replaced by Plummer after filming was complete, due to serious sexual assault allegations made against him. For the first few minutes, it's hard not to think about that or to look for the seams (of which there are astoundingly none). Then you forget all about it because Plummer absolutely owns this role. All the Money in the World is a crackling tale of Gail's attempts to rescue her son when Getty callously won't do it. More than that, though, it's a spellbinding look at how being wealthy beyond measure affects one's view of the world, creating a sense of emotional detachment from anything unrelated to financial prosperity. Despite taking some liberties with the truth in the last fifteen minutes, the film is thoroughly absorbing, and Williams yet again dazzles, giving Gail an appropriate mixture of desperation and determination.

( 1/2 out of four)

In the Fade

Diane Kruger gets the best role of her career so far with In the Fade. This German thriller centers around her character, Katja, whose husband and young son are killed in a terrorist bombing. It doesn't take long to find the people responsible, but the court system seems less concerned with their actions than with her husband's criminal past and her own use of drugs to self-medicate following the tragedy. Eventually, Katja decides that she might have to take matters into her own hands.

In the Fade may sound like a standard-issue revenge thriller. It's actually a little more than that. The story marries conventional themes of vengeance with an examination of the “blame the victim” mentality that often accompanies a heinous crime. Early scenes showing Katja falling apart are emotional. Then the movie switches to the trial, giving us tense moments in which she tries to hold it together as the defense attorney pulls out every dirty trick to exonerate his clients and make her look like the bad guy. The final third, meanwhile, deftly avoids the typical revenge cliches, finding a haunting way to resolve the story. At the center of it all is Kruger, who takes Katja through Elizabeth Kubler-Ross's stages of grief with unending authenticity. In the Fade is a real stunner that lingers in the mind long after it's over.

( 1/2 out of four)


In the animated Ferdinand, a beefy yet kind-hearted bull (voiced by John Cena) is mistaken for a dangerous beast and ends up far away from his home. He just wants to get back to the little girl who loves him (and who he loves in return), but he finds himself getting closer and closer to a bullfighting ring because a famed toreador is looking for his next opponent. Once he realizes what happens when a bull faces a bullfighter, the rush to get back to his farm intensifies. Kate McKinnon voices Lupe, a kooky goat who helps Ferdinand.

While it may not be the most original animated movie ever – the “find your way back home” plot has been done a million times – Ferdinand differentiates itself with an interesting message about animal cruelty. The story is by no means graphic, but it doesn't shy away from implying the harsh reality that bullfighting is really nothing more than the staged killing of an animal. At the heart of the movie is a nice message that the lives of all animals should be treated with respect. There's also a healthy dose of humor, including a scene, naturally, where the titular bull finds himself in a china shop. Lupe the goat gets laughs as well, especially with her habit of utilizing items she's swallowed to get Ferdinand out of one pickle after another. Visually pleasing and full of heart, this is a charming picture that kids and parents can enjoy equally.

( out of four)

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