As if in response to Cate Blanchett’s Oscar acceptance speech contention that audiences want to see films with women at the center of them, Tyler Perry’s latest, ‘The Single Moms Club,’ focuses on four women struggling, often with humor, to deal with single parenthood.
Unfortunately, Perry’s gift at creating opportunities for actresses to lead their own movies does not extend to creating good movies, much less characters. A stacked deck of one-dimensional demonstrations of female oppression, explored – and overcome – with Perry’s typically well-intentioned but misguided notions of empowerment, ‘The Single Moms Club’ ranks among the filmmaker’s worst work yet.
Quite frankly as misguided and problematic as the forlorn romanticism of Kenneth Branagh’s 1994 adaptation, not to mention as ridiculously self-serious, Stuart Beattie’s ‘I, Frankenstein’ isn’t even campy enough to be fun. Cut from the mold of the films in the ‘Underworld’ series, Beattie’s film similarly eschews the natural intrigue of the original mythology to pump it full of steroids and Hot Topic-style cool, adding an epic, age-old conflict between no less than angels (well, gargoyles) and demons for Frankenstein’s monster to be caught between – all of which showcases an excess of thought, and yet a shocking lack of brains.
Vin Diesel, whose entire career feels like homage to the musclebound machismo of the 1980s, has possibly reached the peak – by which I mean, nadir – of his search for the meaning of virility. ‘Riddick,’ the overdue, and largely unwanted, third installment in Diesel’s first big film series, is so full of tough-guy overcompensation that it makes the ‘Fast and Furious’ movies seem like understated character studies by comparison.
'Oblivion' is best described as opportunity, squandered. Its landscape – conceptual and physical – feels remarkably unique and bursting with possibilities, but the exploration of both lacks originality, and energy. Joe Kosinski’s follow-up to 'TRON: Legacy' is, like its predecessor, a gorgeously mounted, inventive world-building endeavor, but it’s also equally bloodless -- ponderous without being thoughtful, ambitious without being inspired, much less inspiring. The chronicle of a battle for the fate of humankind that possesses little humanity of its own, 'Oblivion' is an overstuffed compendium of familiar genre tropes rendered with ornamental beauty but not much emotional depth.
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