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TWO LEFTOVER REVIEWS: PENGUINS & THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING

year: 2014 rating: **
PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR: The coolest chase scene in the Roger Moore James Bond MOONRAKER has nothing to do with outer space but, taking place in Italy, the resilient spy darts through busy sidewalks and canals, including a getaway using one of those romantic canoes going from the water onto land back onto water, and pretty much that exact thing happens in PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR…

And in keeping with the 1970’s Bond genre vibe, most of the film attempts the same freewheeling aura, on purpose…

The main villain has an island lair ala Christopher Lee in THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN and is able to live underwater much like the heavy in THE SPY WHO LOVED ME… Only Dave is a bitter Octopus with a rather pathetic backstory: throughout his career as a water park attraction geared for kids, penguins would always steal his thunder… And now he wants revenge.

PENGUINS starts out pretty good, going back to when they were younger: three (and soon four) rogues wanting to split from the cookie-cutter pack… But ironically, right when their adventure gains momentum, our flightless heroes serve as mere patsies to an overblown, overlong and overcooked spy parody, which any character could have been stuck in.

year: 2014 rating: *1/2
THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING: Our subject, Stephen Hawking, was on the verge of discovering THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING, but the director obviously didn’t realize before a montage sequence shows two people getting married, and then their babies growing into toddlers before our very eyes, we should know the characters just a bit.

The romantic setup at Cambridge University, bathed in an opulent nostalgic glow of academia, does look wonderful. And yet the meeting of Stephen and his first wife Jean is so quick and easy, it’s not one bit interesting.

As an actor and probably the next Oscar winner, Eddie Redmayne transforms from a quirky, ambitious student into the tortured, wheelchair-bound genius, but the performance shouldn’t be compared to Daniel Day Lewis in MY LEFT FOOT since this particular vehicle seems more like an actor’s workshop than a fleshed-out biopic with a genuine character arc. It’s as if the scriptwriter wanted Hawking’s controversial philosophies on Atheism, through the prism of discovering a powerful Black Hole, to have a cinematic soundboard – with an intellectual date movie buried within the stardust. (Hawking himself said the movie was "broadly true," and it sure is broad.) Yet after tedious bouts of soap opera diatribes we never really know the man behind the suffering and brilliance, and how he managed to bridge his personal life with his breakthrough in science, and beyond.

Like an actual Black Hole, this particular THEORY has an intriguing design with absolutely nothing inside.
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