(PG, 111 minutes, Warner): Peter Pan origin story set during World War II stars Hugh Jackman as the pirate Blackbeard. Barrie’s original work deserves more than a stale narrative with the old “chosen one” chestnut. But that’s what we get. Some of the stunning visuals compensate for a meandering, overstuffed and lackluster plot. Live action gives way to spectacular stop-motion animation in which characters tell each other stories from the past. Then there are the fight scenes on flying ships.
But no amount of CGI can distract from the acting, which comes across as more of an extreme sport than an art form. Jackman bloviates and sneers as if he’s onstage, trying to ensure that every gesture reaches the cheap seats. And Garrett Hedlund channels John Wayne, but with less subtlety, as he swaggers and flirts, belaboring every syllable as he drops his pitch by an octave. In counterpoint, Rooney Mara’s Tiger Lily makes for a warrior princess whose elaborate headdresses are as impressive as her fighting skills. But what about Peter? Amid all this swirl, the central character doesn’t make much of an impression. The movie doesn’t so much enhance our understanding of the flying boy as it demonstrates how little thought went into crafting his back story. Contains fantasy action violence, language and some thematic material. Extras: “The Boy Who Would Be Pan” featurette. Blu-ray: Director’s commentary, “Never Grow Up: The Legend of Pan,” “The Scoundrels of Neverland,” “Wondrous Realms.”
(PG, 120 minutes, Sony): Christian movie in which prayer saves a marriage that’s on the rocks. Preachy doesn’t begin to describe this mighty long-winded and wincingly overwrought domestic drama from Sony’s faith-based Affirm Films division. Real Estate agent Liz is having marital troubles, and an older pious woman, Miss Clara, tells her that those problems can be blamed entirely on her part-time churchgoing. Miss Clara persuades Liz to convert a home closet into a “war room” where she can get right with God by drawing up a battle plan marshaling prayer as the ultimate weapon to save her crumbling family. Alex Kendrick, an evangelical filmmaker who was responsible for the successful 2008 Kirk Cameron drama “Fireproof,” can never be accused of sugar-coating all the blatant proselytizing. But this Bible study class of a feature film could prove tricky to digest for Liz’s fellow casual congregants.
Contains mild profanity and thematic elements. Extras: Deleted scenes; commentary with director Alex Kendrick and producer Stephen Kendrick; eight featurettes: “Making of War Room,” “War Room in 60 Seconds,” “The Heart of War Room,” “From Auditioning to Acting: A Look at What It Takes to Cast a Movie,” “Molly Bruno - Modern Day Miss Clara,” “Investing in the Next Generation,” “The Church on Its Knees,” “A Pastor’s Call to Prayer.” Blu-ray: Bloopers & outtakes; two additional featurettes: “The Art of Jumping Rope” and “Behind the Scenes: Color Grading”; “Warrior” music video by Steven Curtis Chapman.
Also out Dec. 22
- “Dragon Blade”
- “The Giant King”
- “Nasty Baby”
- “Queen of Earth”
- “12 Rounds 3: Lockdown”