‘Frozen’ is fantastic, ‘Homefront’ is harrowing and ‘Philomena’ is heartfelt

Among the new movies that were released Wednesday, Nov. 27 at theaters throughout the Valley are a fantastic animated adventure from Disney, a harrowing thriller starring Jason Statham and a heartfelt dramedy pairing Steve Coogan and Judi Dench.

Frozen

Kristen Bell plays a fearless optimist who, when a prophecy traps a kingdom in eternal winter, teams up with extreme mountain man (Jonathan Groff) on an epic journey to find her sister the Snow Queen (Idina Menzel), and put an end to her icy spell. (PG – 108 minutes)

“Frozen” is fantastic. In fact, Disney’s new film is not only the best animated adventure of the year but also a remarkably triumphant return to form for the studio as it stuns with breathtakingly beautiful visuals, magnificent musical numbers, wonderfully fun characters and a simple-yet-engaging story with a meaningful message about exuding love that is essential to audiences of all ages. The only wonder is why it has taken the Mouse House so long to mine the glisteningly precious ice Hans Christian Andersen’s classic fairy tale. Nonetheless, we finally have a new masterpiece that is worthy of joining Disney’s catalog of classics. (Breakthrough!)

Homefront

Jason Statham plays a widowed ex-DEA agent who retires to a small town for the sake of his 10-year-old daughter (Izabela Vidovic). The only problem is he picked the wrong town. James Franco, Winona Ryder and Kate Bosworth also star. (R – 100 minutes)

“Homefront” is as gripping as it is gritty. Granted, director’s Gary Felder’s new thriller, adapted from author Chuck Logan’s novel for the screen by Sylvester Stallone, features some silly moments – such as when star Jason Statham hops off of a motorcycle and then opens fire on it in order to cause an explosion that will stop the bad guys in their tracks. However, it also features some spectacular performances from its all-star cast in roles unlike you have ever seen them before and a terrific tension that builds to an action-packed finale whose sheer force alone will pin you to your seat. (Thumbs Up!)

Philomena

Steve Coogan plays a world-weary political journalist who picks up the story of a woman’s (Judi Dench) search for her son, who was taken away from her decades ago after she became pregnant and was forced to live in a convent. (R – 94 minutes)

“Philomena” is an intellectually stimulating and emotionally stirring motion picture that is much more complex and complicated than most. Director Stephen Frears and star Steve Coogan, who also co-wrote the screenplay, challenge viewers with the true story of a woman – so eloquently portrayed by Judi Dench – who was the victim of a tragic injustice and yet has the experiential wisdom to know that if you are unable to forgive your persecutors then you will never be able to forgive yourself. Like Coogan’s character, you will be outraged but some sagacious spirituality will curtail your choler. (Thumbs Up!)

Joseph J. Airdo

Joseph J. Airdo is a film critic, producer and on-air personality for Breakthrough Entertainment, a talk radio show airing 10-11 a.m. Saturdays on KPHX 1480 AM and BreakRadioShow.com that shines a spotlight on the practical perspectives of the topics and themes explored in movies. He has a pet duck named Frozen who is as opinionated about movies as he is. E-mail him at joseph.airdo@gmail.com.

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