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Movie Review: ‘The Light Between Oceans’ Runs Shallow and Dim

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The Light Between Oceans Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

Is The Light Between Oceans worth the emotional trauma? This movie review will give you the details:

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hat should have been a mildly soapy tearjerker turned into a depressingly cruel picture that made me want to bolt right out of my seat. The Light Between Oceans places emotionally damaged people in tough situations where the fate of a child has to be painfully decided. The only problem is that in order to buy into this sob story, you have to ignore the unshakable thought that these characters placed themselves in this very terrible situation by choice.

At first everything is peaches and cream for the quiet Tom (Michael Fassbender) and the chipper Isabel (Alicia Vikander). Tom is a World War I veteran that decides to reside as the lighthouse keeper off an Australian coast. He warms up rather quickly to Isabel and it isn’t long before they’re married, spending their days together on the secluded island to maintain the lighthouse. But when they desire to become parents, their efforts are met with two painful miscarriages.

The Light Between Oceans Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

The couple’s attempts to have a child of their own were met with heartbreak.

Then one day a boat washes up on shore with a dead father holding his crying baby daughter. How would a normal person respond to such an incident? They’d send a Morse code message back to land that they found a body and baby; perhaps the baby still has a mother that she could be returned to. In fact, that’s exactly what Tom wants to do, despite being more hopeful he can adopt the child, as the mother seems out of the question.

But for the child-desperate Isabel, her tearful answer is to bury the dead body of the father and raise the little girl as their very own. No matter how many times Isabel convinces Tom that this isn’t wrong, it is so insanely wrong that it’s baffling how such a scenario could continue.

And for the rest of The Light Between Oceans, we await the inevitable, but with drama that is both limp and disgusting. It isn’t long before Tom discovers the child’s true mother Hannah (Rachel Weisz) is very much alive and incredibly depressed about losing her husband and daughter. The right thing to do would be to tell her that you found her baby. Then again, the right thing to do would be to tell the authorities that you found a baby and a dead body. The wrong thing to do is send letters and toys to the mother to assure her that her child is alive as if you’re a creepy kidnapper demanding a ransom.

Rachel Weisz The Light Between Oceans Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

Rachel Weisz is easily the most sympathetic character in ‘The Light Between Oceans.’

Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander are both great actors, but even they can’t save this script. Fassbender appears almost entirely one note as a depressed and devoted man, only breaking his mumbling silence to briefly act like a silly dad. Vikander only has two settings of either being smilingly gleeful or clinically depressed. We’re supposed to care about their characters with their passion and plight, but I never reached that point with their romance. There is rarely much guilt associated with either of them, only slightly displayed and never capitalized. Their happiness is seen through bits and pieces of montages while their sadness is mostly filtered through silence, dead gazes and a few tears. They don’t exactly earn the redemption they seek and receive by the third act.

Surprisingly, the best actor in this drama was the child named Lucy by Isabel and Grace by her real mother Hannah. Her performance feels natural and perfectly conveys the innocence of a little girl’s imagination and sheer heartbreak for having her fake mother torn away from her. My heart broke for this little girl who is going to have one messed up childhood for being raised in such an awkward and ugly situation.

The Light Between Oceans Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

This little girl is going to have a really tough time adjusting.

But her character is mostly kicked to the curb by the third act as we focus more on the relationship of Isabel and Tom. Why should we care about them when they obviously don’t care that much about the child’s well being? If they truly felt so strongly about this girl, they wouldn’t have even claimed her as their own and sought out her mother to begin with. And, you know, not cover up her real dad’s death.

Rachel Weisz’s character Hannah should be appalled and distraught by such an ordeal, but ultimately ends up forgiving Isabel and Tom after a few weeks. This is a woman who has lost her daughter emotionally and had her husband’s dead body hidden from her; this isn’t exactly something that can easily be forgiven in such a short time. She’s the far better woman in comparison to the insane couple.

Read more to get the rest of the movie review for The Light Between Oceans:

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“Captain Marvel” Retains Top Slot at the Box Office

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It’s no surprise that in its second weekend, the first Marvel Cinematic Universe of 2019 is still riding high. Captain Marvel, the latest in the MCU with Brie Larson starring as the lead, generated another $69 million over the weekend, placing its domestic total at $266 million. Tallying up the international box office, the film’s global total to date is $760 million. Despite the online controversy, the film is looking to be another strong box office smash for Disney and Marvel.

As for the premieres for the weekend, and there were plenty, they were all over the map. Just below Captain Marvel was the animated adventure Wonder Park, bringing in $16 million, another film with controversy when the director’s name was removed from the picture after sexual harassment charges. Five Feet Apart, the dying teen drama about a romance amid cystic fibrosis, only came in at #3 with a weekend gross of $13 million. And debuting the lowest in the top 10 for debuts was Captive State, a sci-fi dystopian tale, only making $3 million. The film debuted so low the little film No Manches Frida 2 was able to sneak about it at #6 with a gross of $3.8 million.

Drops were fairly low all around for the returning films, mostly because Captain Marvel was dominating the previous weekend. The only milestone worth noting is that The LEGO Movie 2, after six weeks at the box office, finally cracked $100 million. And the sun is now setting on Green Book’s post-Oscar run by coming in at #10 for the final weekend of its top 10 run over the past few weeks.

View the full top ten weekend box office results below:

Captain Marvel ($69,318,000)

Wonder Park ($16,000,000)

Five Feet Apart ($13,150,000)

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($9,345,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($8,085,000)

No Manches Frida 2 ($3,894,000)

Captive State ($3,163,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($2,135,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($1,900,000)

Green Book ($1,277,000)

Next weekend, Captain Marvel may very well have some competition when Jordan Peele’s new horror film Us hits over 3,600 theaters.

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“Dragon” Continues To Soar, “Funeral” Close Behind, “Green Book” Back

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With little competition for the weekend, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, the third in the animated fantasy saga, was able to secure the box office once more. In its second weekend, the animated epic made $30 million to push its domestic total to $97 million. So far the film has done about the same as the previous film and is on track to stay in the top 10 for a few more weeks in March.

Debuts this weekend were small with one big exception. Tyler Perry’s latest Madea film, A Madea Family Funeral, naturally made a relatively big splash with its dedicated audience. Starting at #2, the film made $27 million for its first weekend. No word on the budget yet but it’s most likely on a budget as most Tyler Perry productions are, so it’s safe to call this a success, especially for debuting with a box office so close to Dragon.

The rest of the premieres were not as strong at all. Greta, the new thriller starring Chloe Moretz, debuted all the way down at #8 with $4.5 million box office. To be fair, however, the film was in a constant battle for its spot as three other films also reported earnings around $4 million for the weekend. Of note, Green Book, fresh off winning the Academy Award for Best Picture one weekend ago, splashed back into more theaters to arise even higher in the top 10 with its domestic total now sitting at $73 million. Don’t count on it remaining there long as bigger blockbusters will be swooping as we plow through the last remnants of winter movies.

Check out the full listing of the top 10 box office weekend results below:

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($30,046,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($27,050,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($7,000,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($6,615,000)

Green Book ($4,711,000)

Fighting With My Family ($4,691,284)

Isn’t it Romantic ($4,645,000)

Greta ($4,585,000)

What Men Want ($2,700,000)

Happy Death Day 2U ($2,516,000)

Next weekend is once again all about Marvel as their latest superhero solo film, Captain Marvel, will be appearing in 4,100 theaters.

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Review: “Captain Marvel” is a Solidly Sensational Sci-Fi Adventure

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Captain Marvel joins the ranks of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a much different way. She slides into the MCU via a twisty sci-fi adventure of the 1990s, before the Avengers were formed. And though the film does serve as a strong bridge picture that answers a few more questions about the Marvel universe, the film quickly becomes its own thing and gives its hero a real identity as the powerful addition to the superhero ensemble.

Brie Larson plays Carol Danvers, a woman not sure if she’s a human pilot of Earth or a soldier of the Kree empire’s Starforce. There’s little time to explore these conflicting visions she’s having when there’s special energy powers to control and a war being waged against the shape-shifting Skrull alien creatures. A detour to 1990s Earth gives her a bit of time to find out more while also hunting down some more Skrulls, leading to some interesting scenarios when combatting aliens that could look like old ladies.

Marvel Studios’ CAPTAIN MARVEL..Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) ..Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2019

Carol’s landing on Earth leads to treading down familiar Marvel timeline territory as well as evoking plenty of dated 1990s bits. What started drawing me into the picture was how the film holds itself back from the obvious. The 1990s setting is used for some gags of video stores and Windows 95, sure, but never goes the extra mile of becoming an aggravating reference fest, keeping a certain vibe the way Guardians of the Galaxy embraced the 1970s and 1980s. And just like that film, there’s a nostalgic soundtrack to boot, with choice tracks for just the right cue.

Samuel L. Jackson pops up in the film as a younger Nick Fury with his two eyes still intact. He teams up with Carol in her intergalactic spy adventure and thankfully never goes to the booming lengths he was known for that decade. And the filmmakers could have easily made this younger Fury go full Die Hard 3 or Pulp Fiction but he never does, always keeping that cool persona he has been known for in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Marvel Studios’ CAPTAIN MARVEL..L to R: Att-Lass (Algenis Perez Soto), Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) and Minn-Erva (Gemma Chan)..Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2019

But the one aspect that is never shunned and built up grandly is the aspect of female empowerment. Danvers is established as a woman who doesn’t have a clear identity or mindful nature of galactic politics and has to build herself up when she realizes she may be a very powerful pawn in a big game of intergalactic chess. Her memories are that of always being told to back off from non-traditional activities for girls and, sure enough, she rises up to become the smirking and energy-shooting hero when the final piece of her character puzzle is pieced together. It’s just unfortunate that the film spends so much time doing the building amid a twisty sci-fi spy story that Brie never gets a moment to shine as brightly as she could, despite a very enthusiastic third-act closer.

If we’re being blunt, no, Captain Marvel doesn’t quite have the same gravity to be a cultural milestone of a comic book movie. Where others have pointed to Black Panther as not the first the most insightful and cultural of black-led superhero movies, I doubt many will look towards Captain Marvel as the grandest of female-led comic book movies, making its motives known with the power and subtlety of a supernova. But, in terms of what the film is aiming towards, it doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone and that’s perhaps the point. I just wish that Captain Marvel’s astounding powers to destroy starships and aliens had a much bigger punch for a picture that wants to obliterate the glass ceiling and merely cuts a narrow hole within the MCU. It’s a nice hole, mind you, and still weaves a capable and compelling sci-fi adventure with a surprisingly more engaging finale than most Marvel solos.

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