Travel the World with Films at the Tropic
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
Film Critic, Cooke Communications
From a hotel in India to a flat filled with vampires in New Zealand, from the gritty war zone in Iraq to the undersea kingdom of an animated sponge, this week’s films at the Tropic Cinema offer a whirlwind world tour.
"The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" is a sequel to the similar-named earlier film about a gaggle of Brits who retire to a rundown hotel in India. Taking up where the last one left off, it follows the hotel’s guests as they prepare for a wedding, Groucho Reviews says this follow-up film "shows little strain in maintaining its cute factor, thanks to the drily winning personalities of the likes of Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, and the comic ebullience of Dev Patel." And Denver Post nods, "Sure, it has the comfy vibe of the familiar, but it’s all in feel-good fun."
A laugh-out loud mockumentary, "What We Do In the Shadows" introduces another breed of old-timers, a quartet of vampires facing eternity in Wellington, NZ. Chicago Sun-Times observes, "The New Zealand-made art comedy is a bracing reminder of how the right burst of energy and style breathes fresh ideas into a genre threatened with creative exhaustion." And Detroit News muses, "Maybe it’s something in the water Down Under, but these fellows have managed to concoct a whole new perspective on fangsters."
The highest grossing film of 2014, "American Sniper" follows a lethal military gunman (portrayed by Bradley Cooper) as he wrestles with his conflicting emotions. BET.com opines "Politics, commentators and nationalism aside, American Sniper is a damn good film." And Movie Habit says it "rivets our attention while giving us plenty to think about."
For the kids, there’s "The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water," an animated film based on the popular TV character. SpongeBob and Plankton join forces to recover a stolen formula for Krabby Patty. New Your Magazine tells us that "it’s big, loud, choppy, in-your-face, and absolutely, positively glorious." Newsday adds, "The frenetic pace and nonstop gags will please young fans."
For feisty adults, there’s "50 Shades of Grey," the erotic tale of a sexy young mogul (Jamie Dornan) who likes to tie people up and the gal (Dakota Johnson) who likes it. Huffington Post calls the film "a syrupy softcore melodrama with perhaps too much dialogue," while 3WA notes that it "unspools as a surprisingly engaging story about sexual naivety, concepts of consent and, ultimately, power."
And "McFarland USA" gives us a coach who turns a ragtag team into a group of cross-country champions. Beret News says, "Kevin Costner has never been more endearing than in this outing as a devoted mentor and family man." And Playboy Online concludes that "it gets us to the finish line with know-how and an aim to please."