The essence of the London story is retained, with stouthearted Buck being annealed by adversity, overcoming brutality, confusion and loneliness and then responding to the kindness of Thornton to become the leader of the pack. And all that is accomplished with a soft touch. What we have here is the call of the mild
The dialogue, the violence, the humor (largely provided by Grant’s character) and the intricacy of the storytelling make for a picture in which most everyone in it seems to be having a great deal of chatty, bloody fun.
Directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee (the latter also wrote the screenplay, both directed the original), it’s gorgeous-looking. It’s briskly paced. And it’s tuneful. Uh, about those tunes: They’re blaringly, oppressively, crushingly LOUD! With “Frozen” we got the rousing Oscar-winning “Let It Go.” With Frozen II, someone should have told the songwriters to tone it down.
The effects work rivals the likes of “Saving Private Ryan” and, well, “Independence Day.” It’s spectacular and realistic-looking. That’s to be expected. What’s not expected is how serious-minded and well-acted the picture is.
Arnie, oddly, supplies a significant amount of humor here. His Terminator has developed a kinder, gentler side over the years, asserting “I’m a very good listener and I’m extremely funny.” Well, maybe not “extremely,” but yeah, he actually is.
Conversations about competing business strategies, which take up a great deal of The Current War, would seem to be a recipe for a dull movie. But the fervor and intelligence Cumberbatch and Shannon bring to their roles make for a gripping experience.
Rather than using the extended running time to dig deep into these characters, director Andy Muschietti, who also directed the original, piles on the frights in a manner that builds to an ending drenched in hysteria.
Angel Has Fallen plays out exactly as you would expect from a potboiler of this type. No surprises here, other than that it exists at all. It’s the kind of movie one expects to be released at the shank end of summer. Time to turn the page to fall.
The pacing of the picture is problematical. It’s curiously inert in the early going, with a lot of time spent in cars with the characters as they drive around and around on freeways, side streets and boulevards in Hollywood.
The new version amplifies and deepens all that is good in the original. The key is in the visuals. Photorealistic computer-generated imagery renders its African landscapes and animals with astonishing realism.