Faith of Our Fathers (2015) – The tightrope that Christian movies — movies made by Christians, for Christians, about Christians — have to walk (and I’m including Mormon movies here) is that they want to (a) deal with the tough life issues that Christian faith can overcome, but also (b) provide family-friendly entertainment. Unfortunately, the best examples of the toughest situations that Christians can encounter — the horror of war, the devastation of adultery, etc. — don’t lend themselves well to innocuous entertainment fare. Almost universally, therefore, they substitute platitudes for the dark night of the soul, and comedy for introspection. Faith of Our Fathers does this, although not too egregiously; and odd-couple of young guys (this movie is set in the ’90s to make the timeframe work) of fathers who died friends in Vietnam go on a road trip to find more about their fathers, themselves, Jesus, etc. There were no glaring errors or problems, just a devotion to “innocuous” that kept it from becoming more.
Now You See Me (2013) – A heist movie about magicians? Sign me up! Fun, inventive, and only one serious problem: Morgan Freeman was horrifically miscast. His character is supposed to be borderline unlikable, and there’s no way that Morgan Freeman can play an unlikable character (not because he can’t act the part, but because no audience member will accept that he’s unlikable unless he’s really really unlikable, which is not what this part is). There is enough intentional misdirection throughout the movie (that’s what sleight-of-hand is, after all); Freeman struck me as a sour note of unintentional misdirection. (For a movie in which the casting of a well-known and well-loved actor adds to character ambiguity in a completely laudable way, see 11 Cloverfield Lane.)
Ghostbusters (2016) – There’s no way to watch this movie apart from the pre-release brouhaha. I think the studios might have discovered that there are movies too well-loved to be remade, because people will come fricking unglued, and tout the most extreme opinions one way or another concerning the quality of the finished product sight unseen.
Frankly, I think it turned out better than it had any right to be, given that, even without the social media fireworks, they were remaking a movie that practically everyone knew, loved, and quoted all the time. That meant that they had to balance the need to do something new (so that every scene wouldn’t be compared with its analog in the original and found wanting) with the need to insert ever-so-many call-outs to the original. Then beyond that balancing act of nostalgia, the movie had to be at least moderately entertaining in its own right.
Which it is, I think: moderately entertaining. Competent and worth the time to watch it. The unexpected comedic star is Chris Hemsworth, sending up his beefcake actor persona with perfect understatement and timing, and holding his own against the quartet of comediennes who ostensibly are paid all the time to be funny.
That said… there are no immortal lines. There’s nothing, even in the funny scenes, that will be immortalized through repetition. Compare that to the original, where practically the entire screenplay is T-shirt-worthy. Nor is there a character like Bill Murray’s Peter Venkman, a charming confidence man with a core of innocence. (But they couldn’t really try to have a character like that, because there’s no way she could survive a comparison with Murray.)
Final assessment: Competent remake, more unnecessary that most, not worth all the twitterfroth expended for or against it, more enjoyable than Finding Dory.