Egerton is busy and fizzy in the leading role, but there’s a curious blankness in his impersonation, and a shortage of charm. Hard to tell whether viewers will flock to him as they did to Rami Malek, who gave such electric life to “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Yet Rocketman is the better film. Not by much, but just enough.
Yet Ritchie has made significant alterations. First, he has modified the law of sultanic succession by giving women the right to rule. Second, by some cunning spell, he has taken all the fun from the earlier Disney film and — abracadabra! — made it disappear. The big musical numbers strain for pizzazz. The action sequences are a confounding rush.
You could argue that such silly satisfaction comes with the territory, but although I enjoyed the snap of Long Shot, I couldn’t help remembering how “Roman Holiday” (1953) — another film about a lowly journalist who falls for a higher being — draws to its wrenching close.
The one thing you do need to know about Avengers: Endgame is that it runs for a little over three hours, and that you can easily duck out during the middle hour, do some shopping, and slip back into your seat for the climax. You won’t have missed a thing.
In short, the pursuit of pleasure is not confined to our hero alone but extended to all comers, with a horny democratic good will, and it’s typical of Korine to suggest that, in an era as acrimonious as ours, the true provocation is to harbor no grudges, to forgive us our trespasses, and to drift along, catching the tide of contentment.
Is it any surprise that this disturbing brand of cinema was triggered by 9/11, a catastrophe that, despite the valor it called forth, and the wars that ensued, lies beyond redemption and revenge? Or that Hotel Mumbai, a well-staged model of the form, should leave you feeling fidgety and low? You can admire a film, reel at the horrors it unfolds, and still wind up asking yourself, helplessly, what it was all for.
On the other hand, we have Brie Larson, who is by far the best reason to see the movie. If we ignore “Elektra” (2005), which isn’t hard to do, this is the first film to be fronted by a woman in the male-infested galaxy of Marvel—quite a burden for Larson, who shoulders it with ease, executing her duties, not to mention her opponents, with resourcefulness and wit.
The story of Gloria Bell, to be honest, is stretched a little thin. For the millionth time, the female of the species is let down by the male, and that’s that. The genius of Moore, though, is how plausibly, and how patiently, she fills the spaces of ordinary living.
Viewers reared on The Lego Movie will find plenty to nourish them anew. The songs are still peppy. The principal voices are still supplied by Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, and Will Arnett. And real, non-animated kids are still shown, now and then, sporting with their Lego creations.
You have to admire Shyamalan’s efforts to deconstruct a genre that he evidently loves, yet there is just so little to haunt or to fool us in the result, and a few sharp laughs might have helped his cause.
If you’re slow, like me, and find yourself bemused by the chronology, don’t worry; your reward will be a topnotch twist toward the end. By rights, that should make you want to watch the movie all over again, in order to sort out what belongs where, except that everything about it is so scummy—even the sight of creamer being stirred into coffee makes you gag—that a second viewing would feel like the grimmest of grinds. Destroyer is a thriller, but only just.
In short, those of us who pursue Mariolatry — the worship of all things Poppins — are free to delight in this film. Indeed, it shifts a little nearer than its predecessor did to the spiky, peppery briskness of Travers’s tales, and the whole enterprise exhales, as it should, an air of the politely mad.