Reviews in a line or two: 2012 releases (Flight, Lincoln, Les Mis and Jack Reacher)

Prepare for blasphemy. I’m about to give one the most beloved/critically acclaimed/award-buzzed films of the year a lower score than a Tom Cruise movie, in this installment of Reviews in a Line or Two Ten.

(Image: The Movie Mash)
(Image: The Movie Mash)

Flight (2012)
Dir: Robert Zemeckis
Starring: Denzel Washington
I tagged along to the theater with my dad to see this and knew next to nothing about it going in, except that a plane crash played a major part in the story. I was very surprised by it, having gone in expecting more of an action film rather than a character study of an addict. I can’t say I’d buy the film – I may not even watch it a second time – but I was impressed by Denzel’s performance and pleasantly surprised by the film overall.
The score: 3/5

(Image: filmofilia)
(Image: filmofilia)

Lincoln (2012)
Dir: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn and Tommy Lee Jones
I went into this expecting a bit of a slow-burning drama that would paint Lincoln in a very good light. It met those expectations and did a great job of humanizing the legendary President, as well as planting the focus firmly in a governmental process rather than your typical over-the-top Civil War battle scenes. I enjoyed it very much, though I think Tommy Lee Jones completely stole the show and I wouldn’t mind seeing an entire movie focused on his character. The score: 4/5

(Image: aceshowbiz)
(Image: aceshowbiz)

Les Miserables (2012)
Dir: Tom Hooper
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Samantha Barks, etc.
I’m still on the fence about this film. I’ve never seen any of the stage incarnations of it, and I’ve never completely read the novel that serves as the source for both, so I went into this with absolutely no reference point. I liked some of the performances, namely Samantha Barks, Aaron Tviet and Isabelle Allen. I liked some of the musical numbers – “Look Down” and “Master of the House” are standouts. That being said, the film as a whole didn’t impress me as much as I expected with all of the critical acclaim. The “Let’s sing every single bit of dialogue” style got a little bit obnoxious eventually  – and this is coming from a person who usually loves musicals. This aspect of the film left my sister and I in stitches, imagining our every day lives playing out in song – songs arguing about what we’d eat for dinner, whose turn it was to take the dog out, etc. Contrary to some reviews, I liked the fact that the vocals weren’t polished. I felt that it gave the characters a bit more of a realistic edge. Your average French prostitute or con man is not going have a perfect voice in real life. But with the film as a whole, I wasn’t wowed.
The score: 2.8/5

(Image: Collider)
(Image: Collider)

Jack Reacher (2012)
Dir: Christopher McQuarrie
Starring: Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Werner Herzog, Jai Courtney, etc.
I enjoyed this one a whole lot more than I expected to. I didn’t find the casting of Tom Cruise problematic. I get that the fans of the novels want a loyal adaptation – I’ve been there! – but I think it’s unfair to dismiss the film over one casting decision. Despite his short stature, he pretty well suits the “tough guy” characters he seems to like playing, and he has a lot of screen presence here. And let’s face it: it’s a heck of a lot more entertaining to watch a short guy beat up four foes than it is to watch a guy who has the advantage of being a foot taller and 100 pounds heavier than those foes. Channing Tatum or The Rock, two beefier actors, could have been cast… but would their performances really have been any better due to a few extra inches of legs and/or muscle circumference? Cruise also plays well against Rosamund Pike, and the “dirty cops and mob-like, corrupt businessmen” aspect of the story works despite its typicality. I’m kind of digging the recent influx of action/thriller films that have enough “shoot ’em up” quality for my dad to enjoy (we go to the theater together a lot) while also having enough of a plot to keep me happy.
The (somewhat generous, bolstered by the fact that I usually don’t enjoy action flicks as much) score: 4/5

10 thoughts on “Reviews in a line or two: 2012 releases (Flight, Lincoln, Les Mis and Jack Reacher)

  1. I haven’t seen Jack Reacher, but I agree with what you said in your other reviews! To be fair to Les Mis though, the Broadway musical itself barely had any dialogue. But overall, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted to. And yes, I thought the lesser known actors were more impressive than the stars.

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    1. I’ll have to see if I can find a recording one of the stage incarnations of it. It might not bug me as much with a different cast. Most of the Hollywood folks seemed to be doing a talk-sing hybrid part of the time, and that’s what was driving me nutty!

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      1. I watched the 10th anniversary concert on DVD before seeing the movie; it’s not the same as the musical because they’re just singing the songs and not acting it out but it’s pretty close. They also have a 25th anniversary one with Samantha Barks as Eponine. The talk-singing really bugged me too, Hugh especially seemed to be talking more than singing his songs.

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  2. Great reviews! Love the love you show for Jack Reacher actually. Rosamund was great in that movie. I laughed at your comments in Les Mis but am glad that you love the fact that some of the voices (cough *Russell Crowe* cough) were just fine not being polished given the roles they had.

    Nice set of mini-reviews, Lindsey

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  3. I have not seen Les Mis the film because I loved the stage version so much. (Saw it three times, once on Broadway.) Your review has made me feel justified in not rushing to the theatre to see it,

    Heard something interesting about the Jack Reacher movie – they were looking for a theme that Tom Cruise could spin into a franchise for the next 10 years. What do you think? Can you see other Jack Reacher movies in the future?

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    1. I can see them making more films out of it, though I’m not sure the sequels would be as good. Action sequels tend to go progressively downhill! If I remember correctly it’s based on one in a series of books rather than a standalone novel – maybe if I read the books I’ll see more sequel potential.

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  4. I thought for sure you were going to rip Lincoln, based on what you said in that first paragraph! I was a fan of Jack Reacher, too, and didn’t mind that Tom Cruise played the lead character…although I’d never read any of the novels featuring Reacher. I was disappointed in the ending – it seemed typical, and didn’t live up to what the rest of the film had shown me – but I loved Reacher’s very dry, very understated wit; I’d watch a whole series of these films for that aspect alone!

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    1. The release of Lincoln happened to coincide with me taking a class on the Civil War, so even if I hated it as a film I would have enjoyed analyzing it. :) Les Mis wasn’t even fun for me analytically, haha.

      It seems that fans of the books only hated the casting of Cruise for physical reasons, which seems to me like an unfair way to judge an entire film. The author himself said he thought Cruise was a good fit even though he didn’t match the book character’s physical description! Like you said, he pulled off the character’s dry wit very well (I enjoyed that too), which I’m sure is an important aspect of his personality in the books. There could be fans who objected for other, more legitimate reasons, but all of the reviews I read pointed to his shortness. I’ll definitely give the sequels a shot if they end up getting produced.

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      1. Yeah, that’s all I heard from a girl at work…Tom Cruise is short! It’s the one reason she won’t see the film, and I don’t even think it has anything to do with the literary character! Very strange…

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